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Beware Internet Kitten Purchase Scams!

| September 1, 2012

Tracking and locating the perpetrators of these frauds is an expensive exercise, and has generally not yielded much success.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and knowledge. However it is increasingly being used to operate scams and hoaxes, as many have discovered to their cost!  A number of complaints have been received by the Southern Africa Cat Council (SACC), from people who thought that they were buying pedigreed kittens via websites listed on the “Net”. They paid their “deposits”, as well as “courier fees”, often into South African bank accounts, and then waited in vain for the arrival of their new kitties!

These scam artists create bogus websites, using the cattery names of well-respected, registered and accredited cat breeders, and posting pictures of kittens and their “parent cats”, that they have downloaded from South African as well as international breeder websites. They run the bogus website for a few weeks, and then replace it with another, so as to be able to con yet another bunch of victims. The President of the SACC, a well known breeder of Burmese cats, discovered, to his horror, that there was a website using his cattery name, advertising kittens of a range of cat breeds that he certainly does not breed or own.

These “breeders” claim to be South African, they often advertise a range of “available” kittens for sale, such as Persians, Ragdolls, Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest, Sphynx etc, with a cell-phone number. When contacted and asked if it is possible to come and see the kittens, (and having established the buyer’s domicile), they will indicate that their cattery is based in another province.  The “sales” are always handled telephonically or via e-mail. Sometimes they will provide a landline telephone number, but closer inspection of the area code may indicate that the scammer is not based where he claims to be. If requested, a picture of the respective kitten may be sent electronically – more often than not down-loaded from the website of a legitimate breeder. They generally require a “deposit” to be paid, often as much as R2000.00 to R3000.00. After a short while, when the “buyer” tries to follow-up, there is no response from the contact numbers that were provided.

Tracking and locating the perpetrators of these frauds is an expensive exercise, and has generally not yielded much success. What is known and suspected about these scammers?

  • It is suspected that they originate in foreign countries, possibly China or India. (A short while ago a similar kitten scam, that focused on the sale of Sphynx kittens, was apparently being operated out of Nigeria!)
  • They probably do have a representative(s) in South Africa, who is able to open and close bank accounts.
  • Their knowledge of our South African geography is often limited, with little understanding of the distances between cities such as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth etc. Likewise their use of telephone number prefixes such as 021, 012, 031 etc is often a give-away.
  • Be wary of a “breeder” that is advertising an unusually large number of cat breeds and numbers of kittens e.g. 100 Maine Coon kittens! (Note: Some legitimate and respected breeders may focus on a number of different breeds, but when on one website, a large number of kittens, representative of some ten plus breeds, are advertised, this is often indicative of unscrupulous “back-yard” breeders or scam-artists).
  • Study the language proficiency and the content of the advertisement. The following are actual examples of text in scam-advertisements: “Kittens leaving at 9wks old, KUSA reg. (KUSA = Kennel Union of South Africa, for registration of pedigreed dogs!), or “…..we can use a shipingcompeny to have the kitten at you home adres when you pay deposit then contact me on my mobil number” (Ship a cat? Cats may be couriered or travel by air)
  • Beware of website addresses that have strange suffixes. South African websites typically end in .co.za or .com.

When considering the acquisition of a pedigree kitten, make every effort to visit the breeder and inspect the cattery. Check if the breeder and/or cattery is registered with the either the SACC (the Registrar of the South African Cat Register at 011 616 7017, or e-mail: sacatreg@iafrica.com) or the Cat Federation of Southern Africa (016 987 1170, e-mail: CFSARegister@gmail.com) or Cat Association of Southern Africa (CASA website: www.casawcf.co.za). Even though the advertiser may claim that his/her cats are SACC or CFSA registered, verify this for yourself. Finally, pedigreed kittens should never be re-homed under the age of 12 weeks, so be suspicious if younger kittens are being advertised as ready for re-homing.

Buying a pedigreed kitten should be a pleasurable experience, so please be particularly aware when buying “sight unseen” or via the internet. Too many people have been caught up in internet kitten-scams, and end up sorry, but hopefully wiser!

Copyright & Credit:
Article by
Doranne Way –  Official Press Release by the Southern Africa Cat Council
Article Source: ALL ABOUT CATS IN SOUTH AFRICA is a glossy, bi-monthly quality magazine focused on all things feline. Order the latest issue or subscribe online at  www.allaboutcats.co.za

Category: Feline Articles, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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