Scammers may not only be trying to sell you a bogus horse. Another variation is offering to buy the horse or equipment you have for sale.
The way the scam works is that they will ask you to provide your bank account number and they say they will pay you for both the horse and the transport at once. Nothing, it seems, is a problem.
The money then turns up in your account but you discover they have paid too much. They email apologetically and ask you to transfer the balance back. You do so (with your own cleared funds) and then a few days later their original transaction is dishonored. The only transaction that was kosher was your “refund” – and you’ll never see the money again.
All these scammers are playing a numbers game. They realize that the great majority of people will see through their deception, but they rely on that small percentage of people who let down their guard and fall victim to their scams.
There are several clues that should automatically raise your suspicion in any transaction.
• The deal being offered is unbelievably good, the “too good to the be true” sniff test.
• Their writer’s or speaker’s English is poor, suggesting that the scam may have originated from Africa, which is a hotbed of such deception. Remember the Nigerian letter scan some years back? This is not always the case, however, so be careful.
• Their email address is a free account, such as hotmail. Of course, millions of people legitimately use such free accounts and that in itself is not bad. However, if you sense something amiss in a deal, like some of the first points I mentioned above, the use of such email accounts should lift your suspicion levels a notch or two higher.
• If they telephone you and you notice a metallic sound to the call then they’re probably using an internet-based phone service out of Africa. The call will be costing them virtually nothing and they can hit one victim and then it’s on to the next very quickly.
• If you ask them some questions, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t know much about horses.
Horse dealer scams
More than four million people own a horse, mostly for personal riding pleasure rather than for racing or competitive horse showing. But most people know little or nothing about horse dealers when they buy, which allows unscrupulous dealers to pull a fast one.
The most common animal scam in this category is to pass off a difficult horse as docile by either drugging it or riding it hard for several hours before an inspection. Bad dealers may also falsify records about the animal’s age or medical history.
Make sure the horse you’re considering buying or maybe even adopting matches up with how you intend to use the horse. If you just want to plop around, then finding a pleasure horse will be easier than finding one you want to use to jump or ride a little harder. Make sure the horse has the ability to do what you’re hoping for without too much stress on you or the horse. In other words take everything into consideration. It’s only fair to the horse.
• Try to get someone who does know about horses to help you when buying.
• Seek a one-week “test-drive” period so you can thoroughly check the animal before paying.
• Get a thorough health check done by a qualified veterinarian before paying anything.
There are many great and wonderful organizations that live to help horses and owners. Just simply do a search on the internet and remember to make sure that they’re legitimate. Always try to get a personal referral if you can.