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Old 05-31-2017, 06:14 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2017
Location: SW FL * PNW * New England
Posts: 143
Sportsmobile 2003 Ford EB350 4x4 7.3L TD - $68000

No affiliation - saw this posted last night.

Apologies for going off-topic at length here but FWIW, I noticed a couple odd things about the ad and the owner/contact/affiliated organizations that I researched a bit. My observations below may have no bearing on a potential successful private sale, and perhaps the van owner's organizations are/were completely legit, but they gave me pause and might merit extra due diligence while negotiating.

1. Duluth or Florida? - Why is this florida-homed van posted in the Duluth craigslist, and not (near as I can tell) on Florida craigslist? (I found it via adhunt). Just seems curious since the van is located in Bradenton, FL.

2. Misleading Company Name? - The ad says it's owned by the "US Marine Institute," and later references it as "USMI." Best case this is a double typo, worst case it's intentionally misleading ... but why? In fact, the contact (I googled by phone number and name) calls himself Cmdr Scott Steele and is CEO of the FL non-profit "US Marine Safety Institute at There is no such thing as US Marine Institute in Bradenton, but the van location does jive with the USMSI address, which is a residence. Just typos; no big deal, right?

3. Legit Non-Profit? Only the Donation button works. - The USMSI website/FB page make it look like a super-cool non-profit dedicated to improvement of the marine environment, involved with Search and Rescue, offering marine safety educational programs, rescuing animals as well as K9 Search and Rescue, answering the call as First Responders after Katrina, etc ... and blasts BP (Deepwater Horizon spill) for causing the loss of a $4 million contract in the Gulf, for which they're still seeking compensation damages from BP.
- Oddly, the website provides many ways to donate for various things, but doesn't seem to actually offer any of the programs it mentions. I couldn't find any mention anywhere online of the organization's SAR or educational programs in operation, nor of USMSI's claimed 100s of thousands of student volunteer hours working with 104 universities to do cleanup work, etc.. The website is vague about who was going to pay them $4 million for creating artificial reefs.
- The owner is an officer/owner of other companies/orgs (including UNITED STATES SEARCH AND RESCUE - SOG INTERNATIONAL, INC.) with overlapping residential addresses and a lot of the same names, many family, and literally no online press outside of their websites.
- The ad's contact number was also linked to a contact at another nearby non-profit for kids, horse rescue, and "Horses for Sale" er, adoption, that got some dubious reviews.

Again, I don't mean to slander anyone, I don't have enough information to make a judgement. Perhaps these are ethical organizations with little online mentions that ran into bad luck or got overwhelmed, ... but just keep your eyes open.
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