Tips for Avoiding Fraud and Resources That Can Help
Tips for Avoiding Fraud on WikiHorseWorld.com
June 9, 2012
WikiHorseWorld.com wants your online experience to be safe, productive, and enjoyable. It is important that you exercise caution when buying or selling using classified ads on this or any other Website. Fraudulent buyers and sellers often target users of horse websites attempting to steal your money, property, livestock, personal information or even your identity. All of these scams can however be easily avoided using the "common sense" guidelines shown below.
Please use extreme caution when sharing personal information online or via email/telephone and never do so unless you're confident of the integrity and identity of the person or entity with whom you're communicating.
If you believe that you are the victim of fraud involving a WikiHorseWorld member or if you've been contacted via WikiHorseWorld by someone you suspect to be fraudulent, please Contact Us immediately using the link located at the bottom of every page of this website.
WikiHorseWorld will never contact you via telephone or email requesting personal information from you. Therefore, if someone does contact you requesting personal information and claims they represent WikiHorseWorld, they are very likely fraudulent.
To safeguard against fraud, Email communications between buyers and sellers using WikiHorseWorld's email system are anonymous which means that the buyer's/seller's personal email address is never revealed to the other party. Unless a seller chooses to display their personal email address or telephone number on their classified ad, only registered members of WikiHorseWorld can contact sellers. If however a seller does post their email address or telephone number on their ad, anyone (including fraudulent buyers) can contact the seller.
Tips for Avoiding Fraud
See The Horse First
Before buying a horse, it's always a good idea to personally go "See The Horse First" and if possible, have a veterinarian inspect the horse prior to paying any money. If this isn't possible, try to have someone you trust visit the horse on your behalf or arrange for a reputable veterinarian near the seller to go visit/inspect the horse. Paying money to purchase a horse "Sight Unseen" is never a good idea.
Pay via Credit Card
When purchasing items online, the best way to pay is by credit card. Most credit card companies have experienced fraud prevention departments that will work with you to recover any money you may have inadvertently paid to fraudulent sellers.
When selling something, it's a good idea to accept payments using online payment services such as PayPal.com. Payments made via PayPal are immediate and PayPal does an excellent job of verifying the authenticity of their members. When selling a horse, you can also ask for cash when the buyer or transporter comes to pick up the horse.
Avoid Checks, Cashier's Checks & Money Orders
When selling something, it's never a good idea to accept payment via personal checks, cashier's checks, or common (grocery store) money orders as all these payment methods are easily forged or can be stopped or canceled after you've made delivery of the horse/item you're selling. U.S. Postal money orders tend to be safer because they contain watermarks that are much more difficult to forge and can easily be verified by your local Post Office.
Contrary to popular belief, cashier's checks are not always safe. Cashier's checks can be counterfeit or, even if the money "appears" to have been credited to your account, the payment may be denied days or weeks later. Ask your banker for details.
Delay Delivery Till Check Clears
When selling something, if you do decide to accept payment via personal checks, money orders, or cashier's checks, it's always a good idea to stipulate that delivery or shipment of the item cannot occur until a couple weeks after you receive payment so that your bank has time to process the check or money order and verify that the funds have actually been credited to your bank account.
Beware of Long Distance Sales
Be very suspicious of anyone who lives far away from you (e.g. another country) who claims they want to buy your horse, trailer or anything large and expensive to ship. Transporting horses/trailers long distance is very expensive and legitimate buyers typically won't pay to ship horses or trailers over long distances. Therefore, such long distance buyers are likely fraudulent.
Beware of Really Poor Grammar
Many fraudulent website users may live in foreign countries and therefore may be unfamiliar with your language. Be suspicious of any buyers or sellers who use excessively poor grammar or spelling especially if they offer very favorable transactions or want to be paid in cash or untraceable funds.
Beware of Payments Greater Than Price
Never enter into a financial transaction with anyone that wants to send you an amount of money greater than the sale price of the horse or item being sold and wants you to refund the difference or use the difference to pay someone else (e.g. a horse transporter or trainer). This is a very common scam used by fraudulent buyers in many different ways.
Beware of Generic Emails
Many fraudulent buyers use the same email over and over and therefore, the email is generic and does not contain anything specific about you or the horse/item you're selling. An example might be "I saw your horse for sale and I'm very interested. Contact me soon!". If you receive a short email lacking details which looks like it could apply to anyone, it's probably fraudulent.
Beware of High Pressure Tactics
If a buyer or a seller seems like they're in a rush to complete the transaction, if they're abusive or seem to have "an attitude", or if you feel pressured in any way to hurry, be careful as this could be the sign of a scam.
Avoid Paying via Western Union, Money Grams or Ebay
Paying a stranger for a horse or for some online purchase via Western Union or "Money Grams" is not a good idea. These services are designed and typically used for paying someone you already know and trust and are therefore not a good choice for purchasing a horse or something online (see Western Union's Fraud Tips for details). Also, there are scams where sellers ask you pay via Ebay.com even though the item they're selling wasn't sold through Ebay. These are obvious scams because Ebay does not handle transactions on behalf of other people, businesses or websites.
Be Extra Cautious with High End Horse Breeds
Fraudulent horse sellers try to lure you in by offering deals which are "Too Good to Pass Up" and therefore often advertise horses which are typically very expensive for unusually low prices. So, if you see high end horse breeds such as Friesians, Gypsy Cobs or Andalusians for sale at unusually low prices, it's very likely fraudulent. Remember the old saying "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is".
Beware of Fake/Phony Ads
Although WikiHorseWorld works hard to identify and remove fake/phony ads (and those that post them), occasionally a fake ad slips past us. So, if you notice brief poorly done ads containing photos seen many places on the web or where text indicates that the seller doesn't really understand what they're selling, it could be a fraudulent ad. Please report any ads you suspect to be fraudulent by clicking the Contact Us link located at the bottom of all web pages and select the subject "Report suspected buyer or seller fraud in classifieds".
Beware of Dream Buyers
When you're selling something and you notice buyers who don't seem concerned about price, shipping costs, time frame etc, it could be because they're fraudulent and are only concerned about separating you from your hard earned money.
Be Extra Cautious with "High Fraud Countries"
Be extra cautious regarding emails from or transactions with people who live in Countries known to have a high degree of Internet fraud. These countries include Ukraine, Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Egypt, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Nigeria.
Don't Dial Phone Numbers with 809, 649, 284 or 876 Area Codes
A popular phone scam is the scammer will ask you to dial a phone number with an area code of 809, 649, 284, or 876 and if you do, you'll be charged extremely high telephone bills sometimes over $2,000 per minute and they've got many tricks to keep you on the line as long as possible. Area code 649 goes to the Turks/Caicos, 809 goes to the Dominican Republic, 284 goes to the British Virgin Islands, and 876 goes to Jamaica. Although most land line telephone companies now have services in place to prevent this, there is now a resurgence of this type of fraud on mobile phones. See this Report From the FCC for details.
Google Checkout Fraud
We've heard reports of fraudulent horse trailer buyers and sellers who use fake Google Checkout credentials or websites with fake Google Checkout credentials to buy or sell horse trailers. You can read more about how to protect yourself from fraud using the Google Checkout Security Center.
If You Suspect Fraud
If you have good reason to believe that a buyer or seller on WikiHorseWorld is fraudulent, or if you believe that you are a victim of fraud resulting from a transaction made through WikiHorseWorld, please take the following actions immediately:
- Please contact WikiHorseWorld using the Contact Us link located at the bottom of every webpage and provide us with a detailed description of such fraud or suspected fraud. Select the subject "Report suspected buyer or seller fraud in Classifieds".
- Please use the following link to contact the United States Internet Crime Complaint Center and provide them with a detailed description of such fraud or suspected fraud.
Also, here are several other fraud related resources you may want to consider using:
- For suspected fraud in the United States, you can use the following link to File a Complaint With the Federal Trade Commission.
- For suspected fraud in the United States, you can forward scam related emails you receive directly to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com.
- For suspected cross-border internet fraud between two different Countries, you can use the following link to File a Complaint with eConsumer.gov which currently includes 28 member nations.
- For suspected fraud in Canada, you can use the following link to File a Complaint with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
- You can try reporting the fraud to the scammer's email provider by going to that email provider's website and finding their abuse or fraud page. Often, you can alert the email provider by sending email to abuse@[Email-Domain-Name].com, fraud@[Email-Domain-Name].com, or spoof@[Email-Domain-Name].com.
- Use the following link to Get Tips About Avoiding Fraud From the US Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Use the following link to View Common Fraud Schemes from the US Internet Crime Complaint Center.