Scambook Cautions Against Buying Exotic Pets Online

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Scambook, the Internet’s leading consumer advocate platform, is warning consumers against buying exotic pets online after multiple reports of online pet fraud. This warning is being issued after a woman in Battle Creek, Michigan was scammed out of $350 when trying to purchase a monkey online.

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Consumers really need to do their research when shopping online for pets and make sure any breeder or importer is legitimate before they conduct a transaction.

Scambook, the Internet’s leading consumer advocate platform, is warning consumers against buying exotic pets online after multiple reports of online pet fraud. This warning is being issued after a woman in Battle Creek, Michigan was scammed out of $350 when trying to purchase a monkey online. *

“Consumers really need to do their research when shopping online for pets and make sure any breeder or importer is legitimate before they conduct a transaction," says Scambook's Director of Marketing, Kase Chong. "As with any transaction, if a deal on a pet seems too good to be true, it may be a scam. Consumers also need to be extra vigilant if they are shopping for a new pet on sites like Craigslist."

The woman from Battle Creek, Michigan was originally asked to pay $50 to her online contacts for the monkey, which the sellers claimed had to be imported from the West African nation of Cameroon. The scammers explained to the woman that this was a bargain price as monkeys usually cost around $350.

However, this was the sum total after the scammers demanded more cash for “licensing fees,” a cage, and shots. By the time the woman realized it was a scam and tried filing a report, authorities told her it was unlikely she would ever see the monkey or receive her money back.

Consumers trying to purchase primates should be aware that it is actually illegal to import chimps, gibbons, monkeys, or lemurs. The US Customs and Border Patrol states:

Monkeys and other primates may be brought into the United States for scientific, educational or exhibition purposes by importers who are registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contact (404) 639-3441 for further assistance. However, under no circumstances may they be imported as pets. **

Scambook additionally lists the following warning signs and tips that demonstrate when an online pet deal is fraudulent:

1.    Request for additional payment to cover “license fees”: This extra "licensing fee" is usually mentioned at the last minute or after the transaction has already begun, is a huge red flag.

2.    All costs listed upfront with transparency: Conversely, a reputable breeder or importer will let the buyer know all costs upfront, including any licensing fees or costs for cages, shots, etc. Any additional "surprise" costs that follow the initial price are signs that this pet transaction may be a scam.

3.    Research the legality of the pet: A pet may not even be legal in your state, county, or country. Before you trust the word of an online seller, make sure to do research yourself.

4.    Bargain prices for pets: If it seems like the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers prey on consumers looking for a bargain or a deal to lure in consumers who want to capitalize on the opportunity rather than think through the transaction.

5.    Insisting on wire transfers or other suspicious payment methods: Legitimate breeders or pet importers will not insist that the money is paid through a wire transfer service such as Western Union or other alternative methods such as a suspicious escrow site. Also be on guard against any business that requests payment sent to a separate address, particularly if that address is overseas.

6.    Research breeders online: It is essential to research breeders online and to make sure they are a verifiable business. Scambook.com can list any complaints regarding the company. Individuals should be able to call and contact the company to visit the animal prior to the transaction.

7.    Questions should be answered: A legitimate breeder and importer will answer all questions that consumers may have, including the costs of the transaction and the health of the animal. If they refuse to respond or behave suspiciously in any way, this person is likely a scammer.

ABOUT SCAMBOOK
Scambook is an online complaint resolution platform dedicated to obtaining justice for victims of fraud with unprecedented speed and accuracy. By building communities and providing resources on the latest scams, Scambook arms consumers with the up-to-date information they need to stay on top of emerging schemes. Since its inception, Scambook has resolved over $10 million in reported consumer damages. For more information, visit scambook.com.

** US Customs and Border Patrol; https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/60/~/pets---monkeys 7/25/2013

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Judy Dixon
PMBC Group
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