Lynn Reardon finds new homes for ex-racehorses in Texas at her rescue, LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers (LOPE).
HORSE INTERNET SCAMS
STEAL TRUST AS WELL AS MONEY
Over the past few years, social media and online classified sites have risen sharply in the horse world. Most people now advertise their horses for sale via the internet – and horse rescues have found Facebook and Twitter to be great tools for raising funds and awareness for their cause.
However, there is a dark side to the horse internet community. It can be an easy venue for fraudulent con artists to quickly spread scams among a wide population of unsuspecting horse people. Fortunately, the reverse is also true – people can also rapidly warn the community of scams in an equally viral way.
Most of us in the horse world have heard of two particularly persistent online scams. You list a horse (or trailer) for sale on an internet classified site. A potential buyer emails you, offering to buy and ship the horse with a certified check. There is one small inconvenience – the check is for an amount higher than the price of the horse. A matter easily solved – if you would just send a check to the buyer for the amount of the difference. Sounds like such an easy sale. Except, of course, that the certified check is counterfeit – and you just sent a legitimate check off to a con artist.
The second scam targets horse rescue supporters. An organization sets up a Facebook page (or a website) – and begins posting photos of sad horses in kill pens at local auctions, along with pleas for donations to “bail” the horses out. Funds pour in, from horse lovers all around the country, and the horses are “saved” – but no follow-up is ever posted showing the horses in good homes. Instead, another round of photos is posted, showing new horses in the kill pens – also in need of bail. Turns out that the organization isn’t really a charity, but a scam – and the funds end up helping the scammer’s checkbook, not the horses.
HORSE SAVIORS OR SCAM ARTISTS?
"Please help! 52 thoroughbred horses need homes.
Will go to Sugarcreek this Saturday for slaughter.
Gentleman died and his son wants nothing to do with them.
Most broodmares are broke and some are in foal weanling, yearlings,
2 yrs and 3 yrs old most are gelded.
FREE and papered. Friend of the deceased is trying to find homes.”
If you have any connection to horses and are on the internet at all, you probably saw some version of this plea in February. It seems to have gone viral around the world. I know it hit my inbox at least half a dozen times and showed up in Facebook posts, as well.
Turns out the “gentleman” referenced was Daniel Stearns, a veterinarian, Thoroughbred breeder and prominent member of the Ohio racing community who died in late January. And Sugarcreek is, indeed, the name of a somewhat notorious salebarn in Ohio.
Several generally reputable horse publications, including The Blood-Horse and The Horse, have run a story quoting a woman who says she was able, through use of social media and email, to place all the horses in new homes in just three days.
But last week there were rumblings on horse-related blogs and message boards that shed some doubt on that story.
BEWARE INTERNET-BASED SCAMS
Most of us who spend any time on the internet and do business by email have received any number of fraudulent communications: the letters from Nigerian widows trying to claim fortunes and all manner of pfishing letters from financial institutions pretending an urgent need to verify our account information.
Some of you might also be aware of scams related to the purchase of horses and horse-related products and equipment. The basic setup is that someone from out of the country contacts you about a horse, horse trailer, hay or other item you have advertised online. The person makes an offer to purchase and sends you a check for more than the amount of purchase with instructions for you to wire or otherwise send the balance back to him or to a third party.
You deposit the person's check and don't hear a peep from your bank after a few days, so you assume the funds are there and comply with what probably seems like a slightly unusual but not unreasonable request to send on part of the money. Then, weeks (or I've heard even months!) later your bank determines the check you deposited was bogus and you are out both the amount you thought you deposited and the portion you sent on from your own account.
A unique retreat - relax, renew and learn!
THE BODY CONNECTION
BODYWORK FOR HORSES & THEIR HUMANS
This five-day retreat and intensive course combines fabulous pampering for horse owners – massage, energy work, adjustments, stretching and yoga – with intensive instruction and practice in equine massage and rehabilitative ground exercises for horses.
April 11-15 (Register by March 1)