Online Monkey Sellers Might Be Ripping People Off
Would you buy a monkey online? There’s a website claiming to sell monkeys and birds, and they list a physical address between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, just east of Gull Lake. The only thing is, the person at that address has no idea about any monkey or bird sales.
Somebody had suspicions about the business a couple of weeks ago and reached out to the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan (BBB®). The BBB looked into it. The result? Monkey business! They are warning people that it might indeed be a scam.
In a release, the BBB said www.Monkeysandbirdsforsale.com claims to sell small monkeys for between $1,200 and $1,500 and parrots for $1,000. The website lists an address near Hickory Corners. The owner of that property said they have no connection to the website and do not know why the website is using their address.
“It is not uncommon for bad actors to list a fake address in an effort to make themselves appear legitimate,” says Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “A physical address can give a customer a sense of security.”
BBB has seen an increase in inquiries about the website over the past month. One review of the website submitted to BBB comes from a man from Austin, TX. He says he tried to purchase a monkey from the company. After attempts to pay through PayPal and Venmo failed, the seller asked him to buy gift cards to make a payment. They also wanted an additional $1,500 in travel insurance and $100 for shipping. The buyer became uncomfortable with the transaction and cut it off before the payment went through.
Battle Creek Police Sgt. Chris Rabbit said that the use of gift cards for online payments is usually an indication that something isn’t right. “No legitimate business asks for payment via a gift card,” said Sgt. Rabbit. ”Victims are hit for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars that they will never get back. You’d be surprised how many people fall victim to this scam.”
Along with the fake address, BBB investigators found the phone number used by the company is also being used by a puppy scam website. Also, some of the photos of the monkeys available for sale include a watermark for a Florida company that sells monkeys online.
“Each year pet scams are among the riskiest scams we see at the BBB,” says Catlett. “Most people think of puppy scams. But they work for all types of animals. Dogs, cats, even monkeys, and birds."
If you are considering buying a pet the BBB has the following advice:
-Shop local: Find a local breeder or shelter and visit the animal in person before you make any payment. If you are unable to meet in person, do a live chat through zoom or a similar app so you can see the seller and animal together.
-Do some research: Check websites like BBB.org for reviews and complaints. If you cannot find information about the website offer the animal for sale, it probably hasn’t been around very long.
-Know the law: If purchasing an exotic pet, be sure to check local and state regulations. Many communities have rules regarding the types of pets that are allowed and how they are housed.
-Search photos and phone numbers: Do a google search on phone numbers and photos used on the website. See if they are being used on other sites as well. Scammers often reuse email addresses, phone numbers, photos, animal descriptions, and website testimonials.
-Pay with a credit card: While money transfer apps and gift cards may be easy, they do not offer much in the way of protection if the transaction goes bad. Most money transfer apps have rules prohibiting their use in sales like this, and gift card companies will not usually reimburse customers who get scammed. However, credit card companies have a process to dispute charges when the other side fails to deliver.
So if you feel like online scam artists might be hurling monkey poop your way…..duck. And call authorities.