HOW TO SPOT A KITTEN SCAMMER
Puppy & Kitten scams are becoming an all too common occurance in this modern age where the internet is such a quick and easy way to get the scam out to literally thousands of people in a matter of hours. It is therefore becoming essential that you do some research before committing to adopt a new puppy or kitten from anyone…..registered or not!
We have therefore begun collating (this page is still very much a work in progress to ensure we cover everything!) the following guide to help you avoid falling victim to these evil practices:
PRICE IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
If you have spoken to several breeders for your desired breed and they have advised their kittens are around $2,500, then you find someone else saying their kittens are significantly less (sometimes more) – chances are they are a backyard breeder OR a scammer.
Adopting from a backyard breeder is fraught with issues – rarely do backyard breeders perform the necessary DNA tests on the breed and you will most likely be adopting a kitten with potential genetic defects (some of which can be life threatening)…. Or worse, you’re talking to a scammer who will take your money and run.
REFUSAL TO TALK ON THE PHONE
Scammers will often attempt to make themselves come across as more “professional” by refusing to discuss the kitten over the phone. They will say things like “We prefer to do things via email so there is a record” or similar. A registered breeder would typically prefer to discuss things over the phone or at least talk with you on the phone initially so they can find out a bit more about the house that will be getting the baby they have lovingly raised and cared for since it’s birth.
AGE OF THE KITTEN
The majority of registering bodies in Australia have a MINIMUM AGE that kittens are required to be before being rehomed. Some of these ages are set by local state or territory governments. The typical minimum age is 10 weeks, however, the majority of breeders do not allow their babies to go to their new home until a minimum age of 12-16 weeks.
Further to this point, the bulk of breeders in Australia now early desex their babies before they leave. This is something that is included in the cost of adoption and is not a “optional” thing.
THEY WILL NOT PROVIDE BASIC INFORMATION
If you ask for their registering body membership information and they dodge the question by saying something like “if you don’t trust us….” This is a HUGE warning sign. The majority of breeders are more than happy to provide you with their membership number with their registering body.
If a registered breeder will not provide you their membership information with their registering body you CAN still make a quick phone call or email to their registering body and say something like “I am looking at adopting a kitten from XYZ who is claiming to be a member of your organisation. Can you please confirm if this person is a registered breeder?” Privacy laws will prevent the registering body into going into details with you about their membership, but they can provide a simple “yes” or “no” response.
If the registering body replies “no” DO NOT PROCEED WITH THE ADOPTION
Some scammers (as we have recently sadly found out) will go as far as stealing validly registered businesses information and pretending to be this business…. But there should be alarm bells with some of this information too. IE if you look up the ABN, and the ABN is registered in one state, and they are claiming to be in another state – chances are they are a scammer pretending to be this business. They do offer what seems to be valid excuses for differing information (IE the scammers who stole our information advised “ABN information states Victoria as we have recently moved to the Northern Territory”….but a quick google search will often reveal this to be false as you’ll find a valid business website for that business (It is also EXTREMELY rare for a business to have a domain that is not their business name or very similar to their business name).
Furthermore as these scammers are often overseas, and sole trader ABNs are listed on the ATO ABN register as “SURNAME, First Name”, they often think this is two people and turn their names into “Surname & First-Name”
LOCATED IN EXTREMELY REMOTE LOCATIONS
Scammers often use the Northern Territory as a location for their scam. I personally am not sure why they have chosen the Northern Territory as a ideal location to list their location as being, but I can only assume this is because the majority of the people they deal with are from major metropolitan cities from interstate….and who’s going to drive several thousand kilometres to the middle of the desert to demand their missing kitten? Chances are the poor homeowner that actually does own the address being used is someone who doesn’t even own a cat let alone breed them as there are extremely few registered breeders in the Northern Territory.
The scammers who stole Cat Breeders Australia’s identity used Google Ads to get their scam out to the public by running Google Ads with targeted keywords to get their website at the top of popular google searches people use to look for kittens (EG “X-BREED kittens near me”)
I am yet to meet a breeder who uses Google Ads to advertise their cattery. Google Ads are designed for businesses, which breeders are not. So if the link has “Ad” at the beginning of the link – this may well be a scammer.
TRANSPORT COSTS ARE LOW
To transport kittens in Australia you should expect to pay approximately $100 as a bare minimum (flight only – there will be additional charges of top of this for either a purchased or hired crate for transit).
Breeders will never charge a nominal fee (IE $30) for transport. This is below what it costs with ANY airline in Australia. The majority of breeders get a quotation from a reputable animal transport company and charge you this fee at cost – although some breeders do tack on a small amount extra if they have a long drive to the airport to drop your kitten off to cover their fuel expenses
DEMANDS OF MONEY VIA UNSECURE METHODS
This one can be a bit tricker to spot as breeders obviously do require payment before you will be able to collect your kitten and will typically provide bank account information for this payment.
However, scammers will refuse payment via any other method as it is often extremely difficult (if not impossible) for you to get your money back once it has left your account.
The typical practice with registered breeders will be:
- Deposit to “lock in” adoption
- Balance being due at the time of collection (or transferred just prior to collection).
Ask the breeder if you can pay cash on collection for this balance. Most breeders will happily accept cash at the time of collection.
One thing you can do is a BSB lookup and make sure the BSB of the bank details being provided is in an Australian based bank account via websites such as: https://www.bsbnumbers.com/
CLUES ON THEIR WEBSITE
Many scammers operate using extremely professional looking websites. For example, here is a screen shot of the website being used by the scammers who stole the Cat Breeders Australia identity to run their scam:
The images on the website of purebred kittens (a lot of the images on the website will be moggies – 2 of the 3 images in the above screen shot are moggies) are typically images from validly registered breeders, however, they are stolen images from across the world and the kittens pictured have often long gone to their new homes.
If you are at all suspicious, you can perform reverse image look ups via websites such as: https://tineye.com/
There are numerous signs on the scammers website to look out for:
Many breeds available
However, there are only a very few breeders in Australia that breed more than 3-5 different breeds of cat. If they have 9+ breeds of cat advertised on their site…. There is something fishy going on.
The breeds on the site are often popular breeds such as Maine Coon, Sphynx, and Siamese.
If you see the Savannah breed being advertised on the breeders website – RUN!!!
This breed is BANNED in Australia and cannot be imported into the country, let alone bred here!
They often use words such as “hypoallergenic” for breeds that are NOT. The ability to adopt your desired breed of cat when you are allergic sounds appealing, so the scammers hope to fool people into thinking they have hypoallergenic kittens so anyone, with a cat allergy or not, can adopt their kittens.
Copy & Paste is commonly used
Scammers do a lot of Copy & paste jobs to create the latest website they are running their scam on. They will typically change the name and domain (URL) of a website, but keep the basic information on the site the same. Testimonials are one of the main things typically copied & pasted from site to site – so copy & paste a couple into a google search. If you get multiple websites coming up with that testimonial, chances are you are looking at a scammers website.
Also, look closely at the website. For eg, the scammers who stole our information changed their website homepage (for the most part) to say Cat Breeders Australia, however on subsequent pages they referred to themselves as “Western Empire Kittens”, “Lovely Maine Coons” or “Litter Of Kittens”…. Previous names they have attempted to run the scam under.
A registered breeder or business would not typically refer to themselves under multiple identities – they have their registered prefix, or multiple prefixes (some breeders who do breed multiple breeds like to differentiate the breeds by breeding each breed under it’s own prefix) and they will always refer to themselves by these as this is their identity within the cat world.
Prefixes are typically a SINGLE WORD.
Website Checks Anyone can do
Do a quick registery search on the domain. It is possible to hide the personal information when registered certain domains (eg .com) but the registering country will always remain listed.
If you are talking to a breeder claiming to operate out of Australia, but their domain was registered in another country (IE the scammers fraudulently using the Cat Breeders Australia name registered their domain in Iceland).
PUSHY OR AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
If when talking to the “breeder” you start to get that niggly feeling you are dealing with a scammer… call them out!!!
A scammer will typically get quite upset at being called out for what they are and will swear or abuse you.
If you called a properly registered breeder a scammer, they would most likely not reply at all, or at least attempt to defend themselves in a far more professional manner.
IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A SCAMMER
We cannot stress this enough – if you believe you have fallen victim to a kitten scammer – CALL YOUR LOCAL POLICE AND YOUR BANK IMMEDIATELY
Some other Government Agencies you can report the scammer too are: