How to Spot a Parrot Scam

This is something I sadly hear far too often: "I paid for a parrot online and got scammed!"

 

Unfortunately, because people expect a high price tag with parrots, and with many people far from legitimate breeders, many turn to looking online for a new feathered companion. Scammers know this, and take advantage, promising you a baby or adult bird, and then as soon as they have your money they disappear. 

 

How can you tell what is a legitimate site?

 

If any of these are true, run away! These are true of most scam sites!

- They ship parrots worldwide
- They sell fertilized eggs
- They don't take PayPal or major credit cards

Why are these red flags?

They ship parrots worldwide. 

Many parrot species are protected by international trade laws, and have import restrictions to help protect wild populations as well as protect their country from potential diseases. Importing is not impossible, but there is a lot of paperwork and a quarantine period in internationally transferring parrots and other animals, and it is extremely expensive. Expensive process means there is no profit - especially at the lower price many of these sites charge. 

They sell fertilized eggs.

Parrot eggs can be temperamental even inside the nest - so how can they be expected to survive a trip through the mail? Even if they could survive, I know of no reputable breeder that will sell an egg, especially eggs of high cost birds like Hyacinths. If it is broken in transit, isn't heated enough, etc - they are not only out the life of a bird, they are out the money, too. Too much risk for them to take on.

They don't take PayPal or major credit cards.

 PayPal and credit cards have buyer protection. Scammers do not want you to have a path to get your money back. They might ask for bitcoin, CashApp, Zelle, Western Union, MoneyGram, cash, etc. These do not offer you any protection, so if you later realize it is a scam, you usually do not have a way to retrieve your money. Please note! If they take PayPal but they ask you to send money to them through Friends and Family, buyer beware! This forfeits your buyer protection!


Beyond that, here are a few more clues:

Prices are very good.

 I always look at the prices of their Hyacinths. If they are being sold for less than $8 to $12k USD, it's almost guaranteed to be a scam. If any of the prices seem to be "too good to be true" they usually are. 

Their reviews or about us sometimes reference a different company.

 Many of these scam sites are only around for a few months before they get shut down. Instead of rebuilding a site from scratch, they copy and paste from legitimate sites, or even their own previous scam sites. Sometimes they forget to actually remove the other company name! You can copy the first few lines of their About Us into google and often get several other scam sites to show up (and sometimes the legitimate site they originally stole from!)

If you look up their website domain, it has been registered for a short time. 

While new companies can pop up, if their About Us says they have been breeding since 2002 but their website has only been registered for 6 months, it's likely a scam. Look up here: https://lookup.icann.org/

Their photos show up on other sites. 

Since they don't have any birds to sell, they use photos they find online. Do not trust a watermark. Those can be easily added. Use a reverse image search like TinEye, or you can sometimes Google the parrot species and see the pictures used in the first couple of pages of results! Remember, these people are trying to do the least amount of work as possible. 

They say their birds are up to date on vaccinations or housebroken. 

Often parrot scammers are also other pet scammers, and as we already know, they are lazy. So they will say things that you would expect someone to say about puppies - up to date on shots, potty trained, etc - because they forgot to delete that part when copying and pasting. This one seems to show up more in Craigslist ads. 

 

All their birds talk.

 This one is a bit nitpicky. If they are selling you a baby bird, most are not going to have an elaborate vocabulary until later on in life. For them to say that all of their birds talk shows they don't know much about birds. 

 

Their contact phone number may not match their address location.

 If they claim to be in California, but their phone number is in Nevada, that is a sign they might be a scam. You can Google their phone number or address to see if it shows up elsewhere, or even do a Google Maps Streetview to see what kind of building they claim to operate out of.

 

What should you do if you've already sent money?

Depending on the situation, there might not be anything you can do, unfortunately. Contact your local authorities and your bank or funding source, and do not send any more money. Some scammers will say that everything is fine and you'll get your bird as soon as you pay for shipping fees. It is best to cut your losses, as sending more money will not change the situation. 

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