As near as 150 years ago one would send a Letter of Introduction ahead of conducting business. A letter from a mutually trusted person was doubleplusgood. Never mind that you could travel there as quickly as the letter could; letters and humans both crossed oceans via sailboats.
Most small independent sail makers are running at least a low-level ponzi scheme. Using someones down payment to buy materiel for someone else's sail who's down payment has already been spent (like for rent or paying oneself.)
It's a slippery slope and once you do that a single time, it tends...