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Beware Kitten Scams

| August 15, 2015

We have been warning about a kitten scam doing the rounds, yet unsuspecting victims still fall prey. Herewith a further attempt to prevent you falling prey to this fraud.


The Scam

Scammers use the name and cattery name of registered breeders, create credible-looking email addresses and market kittens at prices maybe slightly below the going rate for the particular breed, but often with exorbitant shipping fees.

Of course the kittens do not exist and once payment has been received, the ‘breeder’ vanishes and the number no longer works. Some complainants have mentioned “West Africa/French accents” when they did, in early phases of the buying process, spoken to these fraudulent “breeders”.

Understand very well: this is not run by unscrupulous breeders; there are no breeders – unscrupulous or otherwise – in this picture, anywhere. More likely it is some-one sitting in a flat in Hillbrow, copying pictures off the internet and using the name of a perfectly legitimate registered breeder.

The essence for the public in exposing a scam is therefore not in the first place to determine if it is a registered/legitimate/reputable breeder, but whether they are in fact talking to the real who-ever-the-name-of-the-breeder is.

The typical features of the process include:

Upon enquiry, the enquirer receives a lovely long email telling how the breeder raises the kittens and how he takes care in finding good homes.
A number of photographs attached, with the names of the kittens.
An invitation to let him know your pick of the lot.
An offer to fly/transport the kitten, sometimes with delivery at your door.
The email signature includes only cell and fax numbers, and often a street address.

They are usually situated in out- of-the way towns such as Upington, Citrusdal, Hermanus etc.

Once you do make your choice of kitten, you receive a very formal invoice, on a “cattery letterhead”.
Bank details are sometimes (but not always) that of an “E-wallet”, rather than a standard bank account.

The account is often in the name of the cattery.

In some cases cat breeds that are not present in South Africa or not recognised for registration, are advertised.

So how do you know whether you smell a rat?

Google, common sense and good old gut-feel are your best friends. Greed and impatience do not share a bed with these!

Do a Google search on the phone number. If it comes up with a whole range of adverts of various breeds in various towns, all red lights come on.

Do a Google search on the name of the “breeder”/breeder. Look at blogs and discussion sites that come up, see if the person is being mentioned for similar scams.
Some do kittens and puppies.

Do a Google Image search on the kitten pictures that you received: Save the pictures to your Desktop. Open Google (, NOT and go to “Images”. To the right-hand side of the search box, click on the camera icon. Then follow the instructions and upload one picture at a time, from your Desktop where you’d saved them.
Let Google show you on which website it finds it.

Go to that website, see if the cattery name corresponds to the one you are corresponding with, and especially whether the cattery even is in South Africa.

Do a Google search on the physical address. See if it is linked to some business, e.g. a guest house or office.
Do a Google Maps search on the physical address. See firstly whether it does exist. If so, go to the satellite feature, zoom in, and check whether it looks like a residential area.
Contact the 3 cat registration bod- ies in South Africa. Find the 1 (or more) where the breeder is registered, and get his contact details as per their records. If those do not correspond to the ones you have been using, RUN.

The 3 registrars are:

Southern Africa Cat Council (SACC)
Tel 011 616 7017
Cat Federation of Southern
Africa (CFSA) Association of Southern Africa (CASA)

There is obviously a purpose in advertising kittens from out-of-the-way towns: no risk that a pro spective buyer would request to pop over on Sunday afternoon to see the kittens. Check the reaction if you do propose a visit and suggest a definite day and time. Do you hear the alarm bells sounding?

Real cat breeders do it as a hobby. Our catteries are not registered businesses, and mostly we do not have bank accounts in the name of the cattery.

We are just ordinary flesh-and-blood people. And our kittens are not goods that come with invoices and delivery notes. A bank account in the name of the cattery should alert you. (There surely will be exceptions, though; but be extra careful.)
Surely, in these days of FICA, it is easier to fake some kind of documentation for a cattery rather than for a person of whom you do not have the identity document?

There is no replacement for common sense!

We often fly kittens within the country, if necessary. A flight for the average kitten would cost between R200 and R300. A per fectly acceptable carrier box
could be bought at R250 to R400, from most good pet shops. There are no special and intricate permits required, apart from a vaccination certificate showing a Rabies

Self-defence tips

Do not deposit money into an E-wallet; I believe such deposits can neither be traced not reversed. (Don’t bank on normal account deposits being reversible either, especially if it disappears out of the account as soon as you deposit it there!)

It is better to look for a breeder in paid advertising media: the pet magazines such as Animal Talk, Cats Life, All About Cats; a paid advertising site such as Kittycat; and also on the websites of the 3 registration bodies. All reputable breeders would have to be
registered with at least one of these bodies.

This does NOT mean that you could not find a perfectly reputable (and registered) breeder via free adver- tising websites, because we do realize that those are the first places where the average person out there turns to when looking for something, including a pet.

HOWEVER, if you use these sites you have to be much more alert, keep your wits about you and do due diligence.

What to do if the rat has bitten you?

This is clearly fraud. It is also not isolated cases of fraud, but a wide-spread scam.

To start with, the police can do nothing without a case report.

To report a case in person at a police station can be tedious, but you might want to try.

As an alternative though:

You can phone Crime Stop 08600 10111 to report (with evidence of course) when a FICA-compliant South African bank assigned a bank account to a fraudulent scammer; or when a RICA-compliant cell phone company assigned a cell number to a fraudulent scammer.

Upon police instruction, banks and cell phone providers must immediately suspend the scamming accounts. PLUS get a reference number to enquire about progress. Phone often to check progress and harass all concerned if they do nothing!

Read more about Crime Stop 08600 10111 at:

You can also use to report a scam online:

Note though that this is merely publishing – only the police can act.
See also Scam Busters– an
independent site for posting
scam content online:

All said and done, chances are you will lose your money, so be very careful before parting with it in the first place.

If you are unsure, please feel free to email Kittycat to verify.


Category: Blog

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