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  • Mary

LOOK OUT FOR SCAMMERS!

I want to take a second to talk about scammers. It feels like every day, we have a customer telling us about how they got scammed. Scammers are rampant in the world of parrots, so it's important that we know the red flags to watch for.

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A few months ago, I saw a post on Craigslist where someone was claiming that they needed to rehome a 7 month old bird that they purchased from Sugarcreek Bird Farm. Working here, I had the advantage of knowing that we had not bred that species for a few years, so if someone was claiming they got a baby from us, something was definitely going on.

So, because I am a perfectly normal person with nothing better to do while on vacation, I decided to mess with them a bit  And, since I had so much fun wasting their time, I engaged with other obvious scams to see what would happen.

Here's some patterns I noticed:

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Only one generic photo:

Most people wanting to rehome a beloved pet that they've had for several years will have multiple photos of the bird to offer you, clearly taken on different days and different settings (cage, playstand, hanging out in the living room, etc.).

If they only have one blurry photo (often from being copied and pasted) that could have been stolen from a Facebook group, that's a red flag. Ask for multiple photos, or even better, a live video call to ensure they even have the bird. Watch for any inconsistencies between photos and the bird they are showing you. (One photo has a leg band on the left leg, another on the right. One photo shows the bird as an adult, another as a baby, while they're saying the bird is 20 years old).

Another unfortunately common trend is people creating AI images to give you multiple photos. Count the toes, look at the background, and watch for anything that seems off.

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If they want you to send them money, either to "hold" the bird until you can pick them up, or pay in full before meeting the bird:

I can't say it enough. DO NOT PAY MONEY UNTIL YOU PHYSICALLY MEET THEM. If they refuse to meet with you until you've sent money, it's very likely a scam.

Or some might claim that they'll ship the bird to you, and have you send them extra money for shipping. Don't fall for it. Don't give them money until you meet face-to-face to take the bird.

Some scammers will offer a video call, but only if you send them money for their time. And once you send the money, you get blocked.

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Creating a sense of urgency:

This is one I ran into a lot. They'll say that they have tons of people messaging them about this bird, and you have to act NOW if you want it. Or they may lower the price for you, but only if you purchase it THAT DAY. They're trying to rush you, so you don't really have time to think it through.

Anyone legitimately trying to rehome a beloved pet will ask you questions, take their time to make sure it's a good fit, etc.

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If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is:

If a baby African Grey is listed at a drastically lower price than average, they likely don't even have a bird and are just trying to get everyone to jump on their lower price.

If the bird is described as absolutely perfect (good with kids, good with strangers, has never bitten anyone ever, has a huge vocabulary, is used to other animals, is recall flight trained, etc.), they're likely either seriously over-exaggerating to get rid of the bird, or don't even have a bird and are trying to get people to buy this imaginary perfect bird.

Same photo, same caption, listed everywhere:

This one takes a little more sleuthing, but is very obvious when you find it. For example, I searched for an African Grey within 1,000 miles of me on Craigslist, and found the same post copied and pasted with a different photo (again, just one generic blurry over copied photo) all over the USA, very much outside of a realistic range to advertise.

Don't buy parrot eggs. It's always a scam. Just don't do it. The egg either won't be viable (how would it stay incubated during shipping?), it won't even be fertile, or they'll just take the money and run. (Plus, hand-raising parrots from day-one is so delicate and so much work, any ethical breeder will not allow you to do it on your own.)

Scams can come in multiple ways. Know the species and look of the bird you are getting. We’ve seen a Red Lory sold as an Eclectus, a Canary Winged Parakeet sold as a baby amazon, etc.

In addition, consider the source of the bird and the environment you are supporting. Even if the bird is legitimate, is this a person you want to support?

Do they have a suspicious amount of birds they’re trying to rehome? They may be a flipper; taking in birds, making up sob stories, and reselling them for money.

Do they constantly have baby birds (or again, have a concerning amount)? They may not be following safe breeding practices and are breeding their birds constantly with no regard to their health.

Are the birds in unsanitary conditions, in tiny cages, with little-to-no toys or natural perches? Are they kept in dark, smokey conditions? If you purchase a bird from this person, are you just encouraging them to bring more birds into these conditions?

Always be safe. If something sounds suspicious, be extra cautious.





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