BEWARE: Internet Horse Sale Fraud Scams
EQUINE LEGAL SOLUTIONS ASSISTS IN
THE REMOVAL OF FAKE HORSE SALE WEBSITES
ELS recently assisted one of our clients in taking down two fraudulent horse sale websites.
SELLER DISCOVERS THEIR HORSES ON TWO OTHER WEBSITES
Our client is in the business of importing and selling quality horses and has a professionally designed website with beautiful photos, video, and detailed descriptions of horses offered for sale as well as horses previously sold. To our client’s horror, they discovered two other websites were advertising some of THEIR horses for sale – using photos, videos, and content stolen directly from their website. One of the sites even copied our client’s bio, complete with photos of our client and their personal horse!
CUSTOMERS QUESTION REAL SELLER’S INTEGRITY
Several of our client’s customers started noticing the same horses for sale at lower prices on the scammers’ websites. These clients contacted our clients and questioned our client’s integrity – a very distressing situation for our client.
CUSTOMER CONTACTS WRONG WEBSITE
One of our client’s customers tried to purchase a horse listed for sale on our client’s website. The customer emailed who they THOUGHT was our client to complete the purchase. But they mistakenly contacted one of the fraudulent sites instead! The scammer quickly replied, convinced the customer they were our client’s agent and gave the customer instructions to wire the payment to a different bank. Unknowingly, the customer contacted her bank to wire the funds to complete the sale.
CAUGHT IN TIME!
Luckily, the customer called our client right away to tell them the money was on its way. When our client checked with their bank and no money wire transfer was in process, the fraud was discovered in time to stop the money from going to the scammer’s bank. If the customer had not immediately called our client, their money would have been gone with no hope of recovering it!
REALISTIC FAKE WEBSITES
These scammers are very sophisticated. A check of the fake websites’ IP addresses revealed they were based in Pakistan, and the domains were registered using privacy services that hid their owners’ identities. The scammers had educated themselves enough about our client’s horse business to impersonate them successfully and convince a buyer that they were legitimate. One of the fraudulent websites was even paying for Google AdWords, so that site was appearing at the top of Google search results for the type of horses sold by our client.
THEY EVEN TRIED EXTORTION!
When one of the scammers received notice from its website hosting company that their site was being taken down, they sent our attorney an email attempting to extort a monthly fee from our client to “help” our client sell its horses!
PROTECT YOUR SALES BUSINESS
If you’re in the business of selling horses online, here’s what we recommend to protect your business.
- Post a Prominent Warning – Post a warning on every page of your website telling your customers that if they see your horses advertised elsewhere, it’s a scam.
- Give Your Customers a Keyword – Scammers can spoof email addresses and phone numbers to make it look like they are you. Tell your customers you will use a unique keyword in all communications with them so they can be assured they’re talking to you and not a scammer.
- Don’t Use Email to Provide the Keyword – Emails can be hacked easily, so provide the keyword via phone or text
- Use a Different Keyword – Create a different keyword for each customer
- Bank Information for Wire Transfers – Let your customers know you will never ask them to wire funds to any account other than yours, and if anyone tells them to do so, it’s a scam.
BUYING HORSES ON THE INTERNET
If you’re considering buying a horse sight unseen over the Internet, here are signs you might be dealing with an imposter scam:
- The same horse is advertised on multiple websites at different prices
- The seller will only communicate via email or text and won’t talk to you on the phone
- The seller won’t provide any additional photos or video when requested
- The seller is advertising a lot of horses for sale at once
- The seller’s horses are considerably less expensive than you would expect for horses of that breed and training level
- The seller won’t tell you exactly where their horses are located (information necessary for you to arrange shipping after purchase)
- The seller appears to be in the business of selling horses but won’t provide you with references from satisfied customers
- The seller’s website has links that go to blank or incomplete pages
- The seller’s website has content that seems odd (such as biographical information for someone other than the seller)
- The seller directs you to make payment to someone other than the seller
- The seller directs you to make payment to a bank located in a country other than where the seller is located
- The seller directs you to make payment via a method that seems odd, such as Western Union
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Overall, buyers should trust their instincts – if something seems fishy or too good to be true, it probably is!
Our Equine Attorney, Rachel Kosmal McCart, has addressed this issue in the hopes of helping sellers and buyers from being defrauded by scam sale websites. Here is her article:
W A R N I N G : Shocking New Horse Sale Fraud Scam!
If you discover your horse sale photos and videos on unauthorized websites, or you are a buyer who fell victim to a scammer, contact Equine Legal Solutions – we may be able to help.
Horse buyers and sellers can educate and protect themselves by reading the articles on the
“Buying and Selling Horses” page on our website.
Equine Legal Solutions also has horse Purchase Agreements and Sale Contracts, as well as a number of other equine contracts for purchase on its website.
Go to the ELS Website https://www.equinelegalsolutions.com/