The one thing I’ve always been afraid of is being scammed out of one of my snakes if I have to sell one. I’m usually a buyer, so I’m not too familiar with what to look out for and how to prevent it from happening as best as I can. I generally lurk in groups that do have someone tell a horror story of those who will purchase an animal from them and later reverse the charge or worse. If someone is very eager to pay for your animal, that’s great and all, but even that puts me on edge because I just don’t know what could happen once they’ve received them.
What are some things that could help with dealing with a possible scammer making off with your animal or money in the event it happens to you? Are they more common than most think?
Having a legally registered business and accepting payment through a professional point of sale service is the only sure way to avoid being scammed. Legal businesses have all sorts of recourse for theft. This topic really only comes up in hobby circles where people are selling things for cash essentially. I’m an insulation contractor. I’m regularly expected to have my crews perform thousands of dollars in work often with similar values of material involved, without getting more than a small deposit. The only protection I have for getting paid, is my contract that I require my customers to sign. For it to be legally enforceable my business has to be properly licensed and registered. If a customer neglects to pay me though, I can either file a mechanics lien against their home, seek arbitration, or compensation in small claims court. All of those things are clearly spelled out in my contract. Works a little different in retail but regardless, you have have a business if you want real security.
The only way I have to prevent getting scammed as a buyer is to strictly use PayPal for goods and services. Any sellers not wanting goods and services through PayPal doesn’t get my business. If I hadn’t gone through PayPal with G&S then I wouldn’t have been able to get some money back when I received Polaris. She had an RI and the money I got back went to treating her.
PayPal isn’t the only way though. Square offers business invoicing also.
I would use PayPal because it is easy to use, and many people have it. For protection, I don’t mind going through G&Ss.
PayPal only covers live animals sales in a roundabout way. They’re considered property or merchandise which means there is a lot of wiggle room for paypal to say “sorry, not covering this one”
Services like square, clover, verifone, etc are going to be a safer bet. Even using a premium POS service, the buyer can still play games and occasionally get the animal and the money. At the end of the day, if you want legal protection, that’s what a legal business does for you…
After the fact, it can be very difficult to recover your losses. Even verified business payment services get kind of squidgy when dealing with live animals. The best thing to do is to research your buyers and be aware of any red flags.
In the decade plus that I have been selling and the nearly two decades that I have been seriously keeping, I have only come across one person that I can absolutely say was a scammer and they were running a scam animal sale. I have had a couple inquiry buyers I felt weird about, and when I asked for some simple information (like a request to complete their MM profile or for a zip code so that I could calculate shipping costs) they dropped off, but tire-kickers will do that as well so I do not know for certain that those people were trying to scam purchase
I worked within internet fraud for many years in my career… the 2 factors that are involved in I want to say about 99% of the cases I worked are:
The value of the scam is under $10k; for federal reasons I won’t get into here but you can look it up online.
Shipping to a vacant home. Scammer (or “Actor” as we call them in my line of work) sits on a chair outside for the carrier if signature required, or parks nearby waiting for the package drop-off.
I’m definitely using PayPal G&S. The buyer can hold the money, and a way to release the funds can be done by the seller showing proof of said item the customer bought via a package tracking number or having the shipping label printed out via PayPal. I feel secure about it with those options, but I’m wondering if more could possibly be done on MM as well. Like introducing a requirement to completely fill out legal info to at least be able to purchase an animal on this site if they opt to have the animal shipped to their house. If they choose to do so outside of it, they’re on their own.
I’m requiring a signature for the drop off, but with me being a not so frequent seller, I definitely want to be in the know on everything to look out for as best as I can to prevent a scam and loss of an animal
I will say I also send invoices I don’t just send my email or request money. Invoice make it easier for me to react for my business.
Yep. I can only think of one person I’ve heard mention they use square and a buyer ended up with the snake and the money but it can happen. I still trust them a lot more than PayPal. For myself, my wife and I have non reptile businesses and have multiple accounts with square and a lot of history with them. If someone screws me, we have an account representative to work it out for us. I realize that is not something people taking a few card payments a month have easy access to, but it’s a lot better than trying to fight with PayPal. At least you can reach a person. If only I had a nickel for every time the buyer got the snake and the money on PayPal….
As far as risk goes, there is no such thing as risk free business. Even with the legal contract I mentioned above, one of my insulation companies has been owed $70,000 from one customer for several years now that we are unable to collect. It’s just part of the game if you decide to play.
After this transaction (since it was already made via PayPal) I’ll be switching to Square to try them out. Animal sales are still a business whether it’s mammals or reptiles. It annoys me that PP chooses not to enforce those sales despite them easily being thousands just for 1 animal. Normally, I don’t even do shipping simply because cash is king, but this is the one time I’m actually taking 1 shipping sale with someone that doesn’t have a decent reputation within the community. I don’t want to view people like that, but it’s a legitimate fear that’s definitely justified when dealing with online transactions that can hurt you financially if you didn’t produce the animal yourself.