Scam! Beware!

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There are an ever-growing number of internet scams floating out there in cyberspace:

  • My late husband left millions in our African country and I trust only you to send the money to. Please provide your bank details.
  • Lottery Winner Notification! Please send processing fee.
  • Update your Bank Account Information. Click here and provide the password to your account.
  • Your PayPal account has unauthorized activity. Click here to confirm your information.
  • I am stranded in London and have been mugged. Please send money so I can come home.

The list is endless. But all these emails have one thing in common — they are sent to you, and millions of other internet users, in an attempt to steal your money.

As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true —it probably is. When you receive one of these "too good to be true" emails, do not respond.

Along with these common generic email scams, there is a scam that is customized specifically to target cat breeders.

The Approach

The cat breeder will receive an email from a buyer in a foreign country, most often Nigeria, but it could be from any country. The buyer wants to buy a kitten or two.

Emails will go back and forth until the buyer has chosen his kitten. At that point, the heart of the scam begins . . .

The Sting

The buyer will tell you he has a bank draft, money order or cashier's check he wants you to take in payment for the kitten. The draft/order/check will always for be for an amount significantly more than the cost of the kitten. He requests that you accept it, cash it and sent the extra money directly back to him in advance of sending the kitten.

You cash his check, refund to him the extra dollars — and wait to hear when he wants you to send the kitten.

He never contacts you again. You see, he was never really interested in a kitten. He was only interested in the money you sent him. The draft he sent you will bounce. The money you sent him is gone forever.

Therein lies the scam.

Cat Breeders Are Not The Only Target

This scam and others like it are customized to target all kinds of products, companies and individuals.

The scams most often originate from Nigeria — so often in fact that it is called the Nigerian Scam. According to published reports, these scams are the third to fifth largest industry in Nigeria. The laws in Nigeria allow these scammers to operate without fear of being arrested or jailed.

There are occasionally some "local" copycats trying to emulate the success of the Nigerians. These folks tend not to last too long actually operating out of nations other than Nigeria as authorities step in and close them down.

The Bonsai Kitten Scam

While discussing scams targeted to cat breeders, we would be remiss not to mention another scam that surfaces within the cat community from time-to-time and is very upsetting to people who don't know it is a scam.

There is a website which advertises the raising of Bonsai Kittens. It was made by an MIT university student going by the alias of Dr. Michael Wong Chang in 2000. The author purports to be raising miniature kittens in a matter similar to raising miniature trees in the art of bonsai. He has photos of these "bonsai kittens" he raises in bottles, describes how they are maintained biologically, and even has customer testimonials. If it were true, it would be unbelievably cruel.

But it is not true. It is a complete scam. It’s a joke done in incredibly poor taste. No one is actually doing this to kittens. There is no such thing as a Bonsai Cat or Kitten.

The website has been thoroughly debunked by many prominent organizations. The originator of the site, is not harming animals, nor is he encouraging anyone else to hurt animals. The site has outraged and offended many people, and it has already been shut down several times when ISPs that have hosted it chose to close it due to complaints.

So, whenever you receive an email from someone outraged by the website and wondering what can be done to stop this from happening to cats, you can tell them it's all just a sick joke.

Final Thoughts

Be aware that there are all types of scams that may arrive in your email inbox at any time. Delete. Delete. Delete!

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