We all think we are too smart for a scam artist. But every last one of us WILL either almost fall victim or actually fall into their clutches at some point in our lives. It happens. Some of them are just that good. Or they will hit us at a low point in our lives when our defenses are down.
How do you defend yourself against scam artists?
Well, we have collected quite a few ideas from the professionals in several fields, and these ideas do work. The thing about scam artists is that they depend on you NOT seeing through the 'smoke' and mirrors' of their scam AND not keeping up with everything they do and say. They're going to paint you a picture that will be just what you want to hear and see from clues YOU will give them. Okay-let's get started.
1. Do not advertise your horse as being 'free' or 'cheap' or 'pasture mate'. Even if true, this alerts every scammer for miles around that you are desperate to be rid of the horse and you are willing to load the horse up in the first trailer you can find with the first person making the right noises. They will make the right noises. That is a given.
2. Go to the address BEFORE you agree to the deal and check it out. Scammers will not want you to go to their place. They'll come up with 30 reasons at least why they are not available for an on-site inspection. Honest people will welcome you.
3. Record the conversations. Tell them that you are recording them-preferably afterwards-so they will be aware that you will have a record of their dodgy conversation. Tell them that you will have a friend listen to it-then do that. Often someone else can hear something that you missed. They might hear where that scam artist picked up on a clue you gave them and changed their story to match what you said.
4. Use a background check website. No, not kidding. It's cheap insurance. For about $25 you can find out just about anything you want to know about somebody-address, phone number, family members, school, work, credit rating, even neighbors. Use that information wisely. If you can call to get references, do it. Do the neighbors like them? Or do they know for a fact that horses go out of that address on big trucks and don't come back? Is that person really working as a vet assistant for a particular vet practice?
5. Do they lavish you with compliments and praise? HONK, HONK, HONK. Scammer Alert!! Might just be their personality, but ordinary people don't normally get out the sugar shovel. If you are feeling really needy, it might feel good, but watch out.
6. Do they have just best credentials EVER? We hear this one a lot-especially on this last big case. "This person is a ____vet student at _____ so I KNOW my horse will get good care." Want to bet? The horse never even reached the agreed upon property. The investigation is incomplete, but it could have gone to Mexico for slaughter. We're hoping not.
7. Require you to take IMMEDIATE action? Ah, yes, the old pressure tactic that the car lot sales people use so often. Hurry up and make up your mind, I haven't got all day, and there's somebody else...... If that's the case, tell them to get moving. You weren't that interested anyway. You need to do your homework.
8. If you meet them in person, are they giving you INTENSE EYE CONTACT? It is a MYTH that people who lie cannot make eye contact. The reality is they are often VERY GOOD at making and keeping eye contact. In fact, sociopaths (the very kind of people who believe that the rules do not apply to them and who have no empathy at all so preying on you doesn't bother them one little bit) are supremely GOOD at staring you down. They enjoy a good staring contest. If this is going on, turn around and RUN.
9. Are they REFUSING TO MEET YOU? This is a RED FLAG. Sometimes they will want to send somebody else to come pick up the horse. The answer to that one is NO, NO, AND HELL, NO. You want to meet, PHOTOGRAPH THEM AND THE TRUCK/TRAILER. No substitutions are allowed.
10. We never recommend GIVING your horse to a stranger-even with a contract. Now don't get us wrong. We recommend getting a bill of sale even on giveaways and contracts on every transfer of ownership. However-and this is a big one-these people will ignore a contract or that 'return the horse if...." clause in a contract faster than an Olympic downhill bobsledder. They know that their chances of A. being found out are slim, and B. actually being hauled into court are even slimmer.
11. Con artists are master illusionists. `Always remember this: if you have a Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or other social media account, your life is visible to the outside world. Remember that advice to look somebody up on a background check website? Yep-this is one place that those websites will go to for information and it does not matter how tightly you think you have locked it down. They will get the information. The software is that good. You can make it work FOR you as well as AGAINST you, of course. You are in control of the information that goes on the social media websites. Don't put anything on there that you would not want a scammer to know. Periodically go through your posts and 'clean' your page. It's a good habit.
12. Too good to be true? You know that old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is the biggest lie you've ever heard". Scammers LOVE to spin these. Problem is-those with ill, arthritic, injured, old horses WANT to hear this yarns-and that's exactly what they are-YARNS. They'll keep you just slightly off balance, too. Watch out for that sensation.
13. Use of the FEAR FACTOR. Only about 7% of scams are reported to police. Why? because the con artists will lash out and threaten harm to their victims. Here at Stolen Horse International, we have had volunteers come to us TERRIFIED at what has been threatened to be done to them, their horses, and/or their barns if they continued to speak out against these scammers. Details are horrifying and very real. These are not merely threats, but real actions. We cannot warn you enough to take them seriously and to go to the police with all evidence that you can.
We hope this article helps you avoid being a victim of a scammer. Having these tools should help you make a wise decision while making this decision.
How to outsmart a con artist
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