Horse lovers are being conned out of thousands by fraudsters advertising animals that do not exist

Friday, 4th May 2018, 9:43 am
Updated Friday, 4th May 2018, 10:43 am

Horse buyers have been conned out of thousands for horses that don't exist in an online scam.

Fraudsters are placing fake adverts on reputable equestrian sale websites and support their claims of the horse’s existence by supplying copies of ownership documents, pictures and videos of the animal.

The adverts claim the horses are in the UK, but once buyers agree to buy the horse they are then contacted by someone who claims to be an agent of the transport company.

The unsuspecting buyer are told the animals are in Europe. and are asked to pay the purchase price and shipping costs of the animal either by money transfer or a direct transfer of funds into a bank account.

In some cases, victims are also contacted about problems with the horse’s delivery, such as the need for vaccinations, special insurance or costs arising from veterinary fees and requests are made to cover these additional cost

In one case, a victim lost £6,800 after trying to purchase a horse whose seller bolted on more fees for a horse supposedly located in the UK.

'Extra fees'

Extra fees cropped up and the victim was told the total amount was for the horse, shipping, transportation and documents as the animal was coming from Germany.

The victim received a call from Cameroon demanding more cash be sent via Western Union - alerting the buyer to the scam.

Another case saw a victim fall foul of an online scam which cost them £2,600 - after a complex lie involving a horse being transported from Frankfurt.

The seller claimed that the card for transporting the horse was declined and instead wanted payment through a bank transfer.

After the seller requested an additional amount for an 'insurance and ferry boarding fee', the victim became suspicious, would not pay the additional amount and called Action Fraud.

The fraudsters are placing fake adverts on reputable equestrian sale websites to scam victims out of large amounts of money.

Scammers have even supported claims of the horse’s existence by supplying copies of relevant ownership documents, pictures and videos of the animal.

On agreeing to buy the horse, victims are then contacted by someone who claims to be an agent of the transport company, who asks them to pay the purchase price and shipping costs of the animal either by money transfer or a direct transfer of funds into a nominated bank account.

Delivery problems

In some cases, victims are contacted about problems with the horse’s delivery, such as the need for vaccinations, special insurance or costs arising from veterinary fees and requests are made to cover these additional costs.

Action Fraud said the fraud between 2014 and 2017 has cost victims £68,717 and the average loss was £3,436.

Pauline Smith, said: “With such large amounts of money involved, this type of fraud can have a significant and severe impact on the health and wellbeing of victims.

“If you are looking to buy a horse online, it is vital that you thoroughly check the details of where you are making the purchase from and be sure to follow our advice below.

“We urge those who think they have been a victim of fraud to report this to Action Fraud.”

Action Fraud has urged horse buyers to watch out for any horses on sale below their usual market value, particularly where the seller is looking for a quick sale due to a recent family bereavement, marital breakdown or other issues.