Common ScamsThe African (Cameroon) Pet Courier Scam.
This one is very easy to describe and simple to spot so we'll keep it short...
The scammers want you, the buyer, to send them money via Western Union money transfer for an animal that doesn't exist.
Whatever you want they are selling.. cats, dogs, parrots, fish, monkeys. Any type of cat breed. They spin wonderful yarns.. 'My mother just died.' 'My daughters cat just died.' 'I've just come out of hospital.' The cat will have to be put down if you don't buy it.' etc etc. All tosh. They copy legitimate advert information (inc postcodes and addresses), to use as their own, and steal real photos from the internet. They may even suggest you visit to pick up but are so far away that it is impracticable. These terms tend to crop up a lot in their emails.. 'agency' 'agent' 'transfer' 'shipping' 'courier delivery.'
So how do we spot it? Just remember these two key points and its easy..
1) Are they asking for money by Western Union or other 'money transfer' method?
2) Do they want to deliver the cat?
If anyone wants payment by Western Union and wants to deliver then it is almost certainly this very simple scam. Done!
The 'Criminal Cashback' (Cashier cheque) scam.
Q. Would you walk up to a complete stranger on the street and give them your full pedigree papers?
Q. If someone came into your shop and presented you with a cheque for £1500 pounds, for an item that only cost £30, and asked you to give them remaining £1470 would you? Not even if the ‘cheque’ appeared completely genuine and seemed to originate from the UK?
Wouldn’t you feel just a little suspicious? If you would, you have every right to be! So why would the average cat breeder willingly agree to do this via the internet? Is it the excitement of a sale perhaps? The incentive of the buyer agreeing to pay absolutely anything you ask? Is it the urgency with which the buyer wishes to send you their money? Whatever the reason take heed….
Recent reports suggest that fraudsters are using the ‘Criminal Cashback’ scam to obtain monies by deception and could be emailing viruses to obtain your secure computer information.
If anyone ever asks you to bank a cheque, that is excess of the asking price of your cat, you may be unwittingly involved in this very common scam. If an unknown person is pressurising you to send your pedigree papers, by email, beware!
How does the ‘Criminal Cashback’ scam work?
It is pretty simple really and easy to spot when you know how…
The person will contact you in the first instance and say they are interested in your cats. It is possible that they will spin all sorts of yarns too.. ‘I need a kitten for my daughters birthday’…’my cousin just passed away and I need to buy a kitten.’ As the email conversations continue they may ask you to supply your pedigree papers and/or your name and address. Later you learn that they want to pay you by cheque and, for whatever reason they give, it is for more than the value of your cat. They suggest that you should bank the cheque, deduct your monies, and send them the remainder. Their ‘representative’ or ‘shipping agent’ would arrange everything. It is highly likely that they will not want to see the cat first and, if you have given them your telephone number, it is possible that they will phone you. Ultimately the cheque arrives and seems quite genuine, it even has a UK business name on it, so you bank it and being the honest person you are, return the remainder by whatever method they requested.
Then one week later, or even one month later, you receive a communication from your bank…that cheque you put into your account has been found to be a forgery. YOU have put a fraudulent cheque through your bank, YOU have taken out the proceeds, to return to the scammers, and YOU are liable for those monies. Does it matter that the cheque cleared at your local bank and the funds were in your account? No! Cheques can be returned at a much later date.
Please read this ‘real’ story submitted to us by a cat breeder in September 2007.
BREEDER REPORTS ACTUAL ATTEMPTED FRAUD...
‘I had an e-mail asking if I had any kittens available and that they were a family of 3’
‘I was told that the kitten would be picked up by a representative’
‘they would deal with all the exportation matters and import permit.’
‘I subsequently received a very large cheque’
‘While the cheque was clearing I received information to deduct monies for the purchase of the kitten, and some other costs, and the balance of the monies were to be paid to the ‘representative’ either by Moneygram or by Western Union.’
The ‘representative’ asked me to send the monies to enable them to proceed with applying for the export permit.
The post arrived and it was from the bank saying that the cheque had been returned back to the bank.’
I realised that if I had not delayed things, by keep asking questions and not opening e-mails quickly, then I would have checked the bank, confirmed the money was in the account and then sent our money. What a close escape!’
Fortunately, the vast majority of online enquiries are still genuine. Don’t be put off online sales. Once you know how these scams work they are fairly easy to recognise. Knowledge, as always, is our best defence. So please tell everybody you know about these scams, whatever they are selling or buying online….and, if someone wants to send you a cheque for more than the value of your cats, or wants payment using Western Union, we now hope you will recognise what it is!
The KittenList.co.uk Team