When it comes to online horse shopping, one rule reigns above the rest: Buyer Beware. The prevalence of online scams is disheartening to say the least.
In the horse world, these usually take a one of two forms:
- Fake account/fake horses: Either the person does not exist as represented, or they do not own the horse they are selling. In the digital world, it is an easy feat to steal photos and videos from a legitimate source and use them as your own. A few clicks and, bam, you can offer a horse for sale that you have never even seen.
- Misrepresented horses: We have all seen it – a horse turns 13 and suddenly his papers are lost and he remains 13 for the rest of his life. Whether the misrepresentation is unintentional or with malice, as a buyer you have the responsibility to do due diligence and protect yourself.
Keep yourself safe when shopping for horses online:
Always talk to a real person before sending any money (on the phone or in person): A Google number no one ever answers? Run.
Get additional photos/videos that are not publicly available: For additional security, ask the seller to include your name and date in the photos/videos to prove they actually possess the horse.
Be aware of the speech in the post: If it doesn’t sound like a qualified horseman, it is likely a scammer, especially if they are selling multiple horses.
Buy from a trusted source: Read reviews and comments. Confirm the social media channels and website match each other and the phone numbers on both are the same.
Don’t count on PayPal to save you: Once you have sent the money, the chances of getting it back are almost zero. Payment method safeguards only work when dealing with legitimate businesses. Once a scammer withdraws the money and closes the account, you have no recourse.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
(Cowgirl Cadillacs producer Ryan Sankey contributed to this article)