Pet fraud is nothing new. From animal control officer scams to fake bulldog puppies ripping people off on sites like Craigslist, or even fraudulent breeders disguising ferrets as poodles, we’ve seen it all.
Recently, a woman in Battle Creek, Michigan was scammed out of $350 when she tried to buy a pet monkey over the Internet. While this might not be the most extreme pet scam in the history of scams, it serves as an important cautionary tale to do your research and avoid shady sellers — or just avoid buying illegal exotic pets in general.
A Pet Shopping “Bargain” Goes Awry
According to a report in the Battle Creek Enquirer, the woman originally paid $50 to her online contacts for the monkey, which they claimed they were importing from the west African nation of Cameroon.
This was presented as quite a bargain, as they told her that monkeys “usually” cost $350. But then her black market monkey contacts requested more cash for “licensing fees” and other costs.
According to the Enquirer:
She sent the money but no monkey arrived. She had more contact and sent first $200 and then $100 but still had no monkey… the contact wanted more money for a cage, license and shots.
It was at this point that the woman caught on to the scam and filed a police report. However, the police had to tell her she’s unlikely to ever see either her money or the monkey.
Deal Was Doomed From the Start
The so-called “license fee” the scammers requested is particularly ironic. At present, it’s actually illegal to import primates of any sort as pets: this includes chimps, gibbons, monkeys or lemurs.
Says the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol:
Monkeys and other primates may be brought into the United States for scientific, educational or exhibition purposes by importers who are registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contact (404) 639-3441 for further assistance. However, under no circumstances may they be imported as pets.
So the woman’s quest for an adorable pet monkey was pretty much doomed from the start. But there are other parts of this deal that should have set off warning bells, regardless.
A reputable breeder or importer of any sort of legal pet will let you know all the costs upfront, including the aforementioned cage and shots. Coming back for a second, third, or fourth payment before providing the promised pet is a sure sign of a scam.
Don’t Fall for Monkey Business
This woman was pretty much guaranteed to find trouble as she looked to secure a pet monkey – the illegality of keeping primates as pets made that inevitable. But her story could just as easily be repeated with rare or expensive breeds of dogs, cats, or birds.
If you’re welcoming a new pet into the family, don’t skimp on your homework. Obviously, start by finding out if the pet is even legal in your state, county, or country. And if you’re looking for a pet that you know runs on the expensive side (French Bulldog puppies are notorious for costing several thousand dollars each), be wary of super-bargains.
Research the breeder online on Scambook, then call them and arrange a visit to meet your new four-legged friend in person. Remember, a legitimate pet provider will be happy to answer your questions. If they refuse to help you or behave suspiciously in any way, walk away from the deal.
As always, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Especially on the Internet.
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