How to avoid falling for scams from your typical scammer

Since hatchling season is upon us and many people will start to sell for the very first time or buy online for the very first time it is important to remember that not all buyers are real buyers and not all sellers are real sellers.

Scams targeting sellers

Over the years the typical scam targeting sellers (usually originating from Cameroon/Nigeria with one or more accomplice in the states) is for someone to contact you and pay for an animal via money order or cashier check, the scam here is purely about money the animal or shipping is the last of their concern.

So if you have doubts regarding a payment make sure that it is valid before depositing it to avoid charges on your account and do not fall for the old “I over paid you, please deposit the money order and send me back the difference” every now and then there is a surge of such scams. While I usually send people like this on their way this time I decided to document the scam from start to finish to show how the typical scam works (making HIM work for it and forcing HIM to spend some money ($6.95) or did he?)



You will notice the inconsistencies the so called assistant sent the payment on 03/30 yet the payment was really only sent on 04/06 (They keep you engage and want to make sure that you are still biting before spending the money to send the MO or Cashier Check).And of course when told the game is over they still try, accusing you of scamming them


Sadly there is very little that can be done, those type of people have multiple ID and email addresses, and the physical address from which the MO are supposedly mailed from turns out to be a vacant properties (that one just went off the market). The only possible lead could have been the third party company used to print and ship the label however that too is a fake.

That specific scammer was registered on MorphMarket however John was very proactive and caught him rapidly; unfortunately those types of people lurk everywhere including forums, craigslist, social media etc.


Scams targeting buyers.

In those type of cases what has been the regular trend over the years is stealing pictures and using them to sell animals at a severely discounted price, those scammers either have a normal everyday person profile or in some cases they will impersonate legitimate breeders (and now Morph Market) on social media by creating a fake page resembling the real legitimate ones.

So what can you do recognize the red flags, if you do contact a breeder on social media make sure the page you are contacting is the official breeder’s page, the real page will have a lot of content, while scammers will copy legitimate pages they will only go so far, there will be very little content and the page will be fairly new (keep in mind that on facebook for example with the page transparency you can see when the page was created), the REAL breeder will also be able to provide you with updated pictures of the animal and he will not offer you that animal at a 50% or 75% discounted price all of the sudden the fake one will. Finally a method of payment they will often prefer Money Orders or if they use Paypal they will try to make you pay Friend & Family or at least pay from an account that as funds vs backed by a credit card.

Now here is an example of how things happen and how they lure people in, this is a conversation that took place after @john mentioned a fake MM page on facebook it shows the typical too good to be true deal with an animal listed at $2500 that can now be purchased for $725, it also shows the ignorance of the person you are dealing with when it comes to the topic at hand (from every snakes look the same so I will just grab some pics of the web that are similar to the animal to shipping on Saturday), it also shows they cannot keep up with their own lies but do have an explanation for everything you question. (like the good all cashier).



Now this scammer did not have to work to hard he simply copied and pasted the info found on the MM’s breeder page, he does not even claim to be the breeder just a company that brings buyers and sellers together, which the real Morph Market does however Morph Market will never take payments and never communicate on the behalf of a breeder, communications and transactions are always done directly between the buyer and the seller.

Finally while those type of scam typically involved money orders this one involves PayPal but pay attention to the question “is the money in your account” that is to ensure that you are actually using your PayPal fund and not a credit card which could give you the advantage of contesting the charge later on.


So in conclusion whether they are targeting a buyer or a seller there are a few common denominators, the main one being the money either a drastically discounted animal hard to pass or an offer to pay more for an animal which can be had to pass also.

So be vigilant, while those scams are obvious for some people who have been in the industry for many years they are not always that obvious for new comers and as the saying goes if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.


RIP Ruben :cry: poor guy is out of a job for an honest mistake :joy:

Similar scams are operated across many fields of business. They can get nasty when you don’t fall for it. One of my clients in home services had her life threatened when she did not give in and send them their “extra money” back.

Sadly as long as they are making money they will continue to exploit others, this is a good warning to be vigilant and not be fooled.


As a buyer, if its a high end animal I would only buy from known, reputable breeders (unless it’s not possible). A straightforward way to find out if its a scam is by googling the breeder and the animal. You can also use reverse image search with the photo he send you. Most of the times you can find the photo they have send you easily on google. If the same photo pops up in a listing of another breeder than the one you’re discussing with it should be a huge red flag.

As a breeder, we have our own “code of conduct” here at BDM. We always look for a small commitment from a seller first when they want us to do something (hold the animal for longer periods, drive somewhere, etc.). This helps us filter out scammers.
For example, a few years back we had someone who wanted to buy several animals. He also asked us to deliver the snakes. This is a commitment from our side. We had to drive quite far and deliver the snakes to someone we didn’t know. We then always ask to pay a small deposit. Doesn’t have to be much. Just enough to cover the gas (25 euro for example). This way, I’m absolutely sure that he’s committed to the transaction and I won’t end up driving for a few hours and find out no one was home or it was a prank. In this particular case, the buyer didn’t want to pay a small deposit and he also didn’t want to pick up the snakes so we decided to cancel the sale. I’m sure a lot of sellers would have done it, but we didn’t, because this is part of our code-of-conduct. Later we learned that the same person owned money to multiple people. He always asked to buy several snakes and “accidentally” wouldn’t have enough money to pay for them all. He would then ask to leave the snakes at his place and “he would pay the remainder as soon as possible”. In reality he would never pay.

One mayor tip I can give is that you shouldn’t follow every lead. If you want it too much you’ll get scammed. Second, treat every buyer equal. I’ve heard many stories (and have personal ones as well) of people who had sold numerous snakes to a person over the years. This “top buyer” will buy again and again and was always fair. You decide to send snakes to him before seeing any money because “you know you’ll get paid by him”. In the end, the person disappears and you never retrieve your money. These are not the typical scammers and are much harder to cope with because you’ve build up trust with them over the years. This is why we treat every customer equal (first time customer or 100th time customer) in terms of our “code of conduct”. Sure, you can maybe give them more discount or shirts or whatever, but the transaction should be equal for all buyers. Money first, snakes later.



I like @belgiandesignermorphs point. It is important to have a code of conduct for all buyers, whether they’ve bought one or one hundred animals from you. No matter what, you stick to that code of conduct. No one can claim you’re being biased or unfair if you have the same rules for everyone.

But you must be sure that you have that code of conduct visible before someone talks to you. Or send them the code of conduct before money is exchanged. That way people can’t complain they didn’t understand something and try to get a sympathy vote.

That’s indeed a good point you’re raising. We have them listed on our website as Terms of sale and I believe its something everyone should do.

Thank you Stewart Reptiles, your shared experience will no undoubtedly help many site members from being scammed.