Christie – Jul 30, 2020
Victim Location 21236
Type of a scam Online Purchase
My daughter and I were searching the Internet for female Siamese kittens that are not yet spayed. We found this website that had adorable, fluffy kittens, so we decided to inquire through their contact feature at their Web site. We completed the contact form and that is how they were able to respond to my daughter’s email address.
The Web site had some professional features but I noticed the look of the text fields seemed cheap. The first red flag was that the language used in the response sounded stilted, just like scam emails sound. The second flag was that they claimed the animal had been trained for obedience and behavior. That sounded very strange for a kitten. Third, they mentioned travel coupons. Most Americans have never heard of such things, which threw up a flag for me but may be overlooked by most. Fourth, they didn’t have an address on their Web site and seemed set on shipping. I found that to be suspicious. Fifth, their email stated all of the kittens were supposedly still available at 10 weeks and 5 days old. If the very exceptional looking kitten photographed came from a litter of equally exceptional-looking kittens and and none had deposits on them by that age, something must be wrong. Sixth, the kitten I was looking for: a female that’s not spayed, just happened to be available. The odds for all of this we’re getting smaller and smaller. I wondered, if it wasn’t legitimate, why a scammer would say the cat is not spayed since I would think most people would prefer it to already be spayed. Then I realized that many illegitimate breeders would like to get such a perfect looking kitten that’s not spayed so they could breed it and this criminal would be wise to that and would be targeting them. This is when I started asking questions.
They were charging $750 including shipping. Although this was our first time looking for purebred cats, we gained enough experience over the previous 24 hours searching for other breeds to know that a cat like that, being available and including shipping for that amount — along with the other flags — was suspicious but not enough to be sure. The Web site claimed that, for this week only, all kittens were selling with a 20% discount. I had not seen that anywhere else. I assumed, if it was legitimate, the discount was already factored into the price. I asked about it anyway and was then told the price with shipping would be $550. This started sounding too good to be true. He mentioned he was grateful that the kitten would be going to a good home, without ever having asked a single question about us or our experience with pets.
He asked me to send my shipping info by text, I don’t know why. By this point, I was pretty sure it was a scam but played along until I had more proof. I said, "Sure, what is your name? Who will I be texting with?" He never gave his name, only his phone number. He started texting to my daughter’s phone. I told her not to respond and I emailed him my cell number and explained that the number entered in the system is not my private number but this one is. He never texted to my number.
By email, I asked where he’s located and he claimed Mobile, Alabama. I told him that I have family in Mobile, Alabama, who may be coming up in a couple of weeks for a bridal shower and that it may be possible that they can pay him in person and bring the kitten with them. I thought that would have stopped him right there but he sent me a fictitious address. He used 3 Notch Rd. I did a Google search for that address and what came up was in a different ZIP code but was still in Alabama and the name of the road is Three Notch Road. So I decided to scam the scammer and told him that I am familiar with that road and I asked him "what is the house number on that road." He never said.
I then asked where he was from, saying that I detected English wasn’t his first language, and he claimed Cyprus. That’s when I realized the reason he didn’t respond to my daughter’s inquiry the entire day wasn’t because he was working or otherwise busy, it was because he was in a country where it was night time. I said, "It must be morning there" and he didn’t respond. This was close to 1:00 a.m. Eastern.
I went online and paid a dollar for a trial phone and email lookup service. No information on the phone or email could be found. (I typed in my own information to see if it worked and it found everything about me.) I then called the phone number and after ringing several times and automated message said the TextNow subscriber you are calling is not available. I searched what TextNow is and found out that it’s a service for getting random telephone numbers. Clearly, this was a scam so I decided to test him this morning, after he had wasted so much of my time and was trying to steal from me and others, and asked him to send me more photos of the kitten. I sent this from my cell phone as a text that he had never texted to. He sent two pictures, one of them included a man in the photo but neither of those kittens (they weren’t even two of the same kitten) were the one we asked about from the advertisement. (I also questioned what behavioral training meant.) I told him the cats in the pictures were not the one in the ad. He insisted they were and finally ended with, "Sorry, not for you." I told him he is a scam artist and that Americans aren’t as stupid as he thinks he texted back that he is not such a man and to stop saying what I don’t know.