Scams – How to spot one
HOW TO TELL A SCAM AND WHAT TO DO
With the increase in the number of online scams relating to the sale of puppies and kittens, you need to be ever vigilant and aware of what websites or social media pages are a scam. There are some obvious signs along with more subtle ones. I am an admin of both of the below groups, so I see some absolutely devastating stories about how they were scammed, how much money they lost, how devastated and upset the kids are, its just dreadful the impact these scammers have on a family.
To help you, I would suggest you join the following Facebook groups to make yourselves aware of what is legitimate and what isnt. And what you can do if you have been scammed:
Both these groups have plenty of information available to help you determine a scammer from a legitimate breeder. The top tips I can give you to look for are:
- The date the page was created – on Facebook pages this is available to you from the section called ‘Page Transparency’ on Webpages, the best way is via a ‘whois’ lookup. This will give you the date the page was created, the company that sold the domain name, and the company that hosts the page. If any of the pages were created within in the last couple of months (sometimes older) then proceed with caution.
- The name of the page – Breeders will always use their prefix 0n the social media and/or website pages. Mine is Furdinkum, so my website is called that and so are my social media pages. Scammers like to use ‘flowery’ words, like cute, adorable, fluffy, premium, great etc. The also often include the words home, near me, available etc at the end of the name. Real breeders dont do this.
- Pushy – Scammers are pushy, they will nearly always ask you where you are located in the opening sentences, then they’ll tell you they are in places that are no where near you. They will also be pushy about wanting a deposit from you before they give you any pictures or tell you, you can come visit. They will tell you they need this money so that they can arrange the paperwork. This is total crap, we dont need a deposit to organise the paperwork. We do need a holding fee so that that kitten/puppy is held for you and not sold to the next person but that is not usually asked for up front. You do have to remember that we are still being inundated with requests for a furry friend, which leads me to the next bit
- Availability – The scammers ALWAYS have a kitten/puppy ready to go now – and exactly what you are looking for! Real breeders don’t, as I mentioned, we are still being inundated with requests so it is very very rare we have something ready to go now.
- Grammar/spelling – Wow, where do I start here. Generally their grammar and spelling is very poor, this should be your first clue or red flag, so be very careful from here. Also, most scam sites use American terminology like ‘potty training’, they will also use Overseas registries like TICA, WCF, CFA for cats and AKC or just KC for dogs. These registries are not recognised in Australia.
- Search everything – I cant stress this enough. Search everything photos, phone numbers, email addresses even testimonials. Copy and paste a couple of testimonials into google, quite often the same review will come up on another website (more than likely another scam site), but occasionally, it will also bring up the original owner of that review. Do the same for phone numbers and email addresses, & photos you’d be surprised what you can find.
- Ask – Again, if in doubt come and ask. Message me, or join the above groups and ask – honestly, we dont mind. Do all of this before you hand over any money
- Australian pages – those that end in .au require an ABN. If you do a ‘whois’ search on the domain name, this will also include the ABN number. You can search who owns the ABN by going to ABN Lookup. Please remember though, the majority of breeders in Australia are hobby breeders, therefore we do not require an ABN and we will have a .com website, like this one. In my searches helping to shut down these scam websites, we have found that the scammers are also stealing legitimate peoples ABN numbers. They dont care who’s ABN it is either, and along with that, they will steal the name that goes with it. One group is currently using the ATO’s ABN number – pretty ballsy isnt it.
- Never – ask a breeder to show their drivers licence or Breeders card. We wont give it to you because at present there are several breeders both cat and dog who have had their identities stolen, and to you, they now look like real breeders. Not to mention the distress this has caused those breeders and their families – people turning up at their homes demanding their kitten or puppy, having the police turn up at their doorstep, when all that breeder is guilty of is handing over their ID.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like confirmation of your suspicions or if you’ve been scammed and can give me the details. We are working with some domain companies in having these sites shut down, along with other investigators and departments to help end this nightmare. Sadly though, it looks like this situation will continue for some time.