It is often claimed by anti-exotic ownership activists that any animal can easily be found for sale online and in a large quantity. A little research and investigating proves this to not be true and a gross exaggeration by those promoting banning ownership of exotics. Exotic animals for sale online is plagued by scammers from around the world.
While a phone number might appear to be located in the United States, a tactic often used is to set up a simple Google phone account. Calls and texts will the be rerouted to the scammers phone in whichever country they reside.
Photographs are often stolen from private owners and breeders to use in the unscrupulous internet ads. Right-clicking on the photo offers the option to search Google for the photograph, too view where else it is displayed online. Sometimes the picture is altered enough to make it untraceable, but still a good way to check for legitimacy.
An easy Google search of any email address often returns any site the same person ran other ads, offering a glimpse of true intent. Scammers often run the same ad in multiple places to boost the odds of someone taking their bait. Since the number of ads of this type is increasing, it is easy to conclude it is a lucrative business for scammers.
The majority of the scams come from outside the U.S. which leaves little or no recourse for prosecution or getting money returned. Education and fact-checking, plus sharing with family, friends and neighbors, helps stop many potential owners from losing thousands of dollars.
If a “seller” admits to being outside the U.S., consider the regulations and laws surrounding importing of animals. A USDI license is needed and generally not held by a person looking to buy a pet.
If you’re considering buying an exotic animal, join organizations, Facebook groups and learn the current rate for any species considered. The fake ads often offer the animal for a huge discount or possibly shipping costs only. There is no animal involved – it is a scam – and the scammer is only after the money claimed to be for shipping.
Emotions are sometimes used to get further funds from an unsuspecting buyer. The “seller” might claim the animal (imaginary) is hung up in quarantine and a few hundred dollars more is needed to get the poor animal out of solitary confinement at the airport terminal. Again, there is no animal. But the emotional state of the potential buyer is used to supposedly get their purchase out of a bad situation and to their new “forever home.”
Educate your self and others every chance you get, such as when someone claims how easy it is to buy exotic animals online. This same scam is used with ads selling dogs, household items, cars and almost anything imaginable. Since the animal or item is not really in existence, the scammer sells the same item over and over. Being aware of facts and current market price helps determine the validity of an ad.
The reputable breeder usually has past customers to vouch for being legitimate, plus many allow inspection of an exotic animal before a sale. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is – and legitimate breeders can be expected to charge a fair market value. The saying “You get what you pay for” does not always hold true as with a scam you get nothing.
Educate yourself, educate others by sharing what you learn and put a stop to the inflated numbers of exotic animals for sale online.