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!
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.
They don't take PayPal or major credit cards.
Beyond that, here are a few more clues:
Prices are very good.
Their reviews or about us sometimes reference a different company.
If you look up their website domain, it has been registered for a short time.
Their photos show up on other sites.
They say their birds are up to date on vaccinations or housebroken.
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.