Monday, September 1, 2014

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True: Case of the Craigslist Parrot Scam

People frequently post parrots and other animals for sale on Craigslist, even though Craigslist has a policy banning sales of animals. To circumvent this prohibition people ask for adoption fees instead, usually equal to what the sales price would be. Most of the time there are actual real parrots behind the Craigslist posts. But occasionally not.


22 Months old Parrot for adoption. Our parrot is very socialized, hand fed, tame, vet checked and micro chipped. Health and medical certificates from our vet. DNA sexed unrelated female.

Clearly a scam. For one thing they're asking for a $350 adoption fee for a parrot worth around $10,000 on the retail market. So we responded to the Craigslist post and set the bait:

Hello: I am interested in the parrot. When and where can I see it? Michael

Almost immediately the reply came back to us:

Hi, just saw your message regarding the hyacinth macaw parrot that we want to give out. Its a female called Blue. Due to extreme personal reasons and life changes, I must find her a new home. It has nothing to do with the parrot. If you are looking for that special parrot, please read more about Blue below. If you are interested in her, I would be happy to talk about her with you, but only after you have read everything below. She's  health guaranteed and will along with her cage. she interacts well with kids and other pets. Have an excellent temperament and takes a very short time to know strangers. I have been training Blue since she was just weeks old. She has been hand fed and raised and trained to be a "PR" parrot. What I mean by this is that she was raised and trained to be in the public, and handled by the public. She has featured in many photo shoots, and has been used for educational programs, nursing homes, exhibition shows, and much more. I raised her to be comfortable in the "public eye". Due to her extensive training, she's very social and very friendly. She has a wonderful comical personality typical of hyacinth macaws. She's quite the goof when you
get to know her. she has none of the bad habits associated with most parrots.

Blue  likes to lay on her back and to be cuddled. she's very affectionate and loving. she likes to be scratched on her head. she  steps up every time you ask her, climbs on your shoulder and mimics sweet sounds to your ears. she has been well trained. She will do well in just about any home where she will get constant attention.

Unfortunately, we are unable to keep this great parrot due to serious changes in our circumstances. We want to give her out because  my husband and i went to the hospital some days back after i
have been vomiting (approx. twice a day) and also noticing general body weakness and the Doctor discovered that i am 3 months pregnant. Though good news to my husband and i, we weren't prepared for this as we are currently in MARYLAND where we went for our Honey Moon and have
finally decided to stay here. Had it been we knew earlier of the pregnancy, we would have figured out some thing better. More so, the pregnancy has been causing much weakness in me so much so that I do not have that required time and energy to devote on Blue as before. We continuing to keep Blue is like preventing her from her rights as a pet. I feel like she's not having that required time from us to cuddle and pet her. Besides, i want to concentrate more on my pregnancy as this is the first baby that we are expecting as couples and won't want any extra load on me.

Really tugging at the heartstrings here with this sob story. We're beginning to look around for our box of hankies. But like they say on television, Wait, There's More:

We are enjoying MARYLAND and do not want to return back now, else we will just fly back. Besides, i do not like traveling when pregnant as it endangers my unborn child...''HONEY THIS IS OUR FIRST BABY AND I DO NOT WANT ANYTHING TO HAPPEN TO HIM'' says my darling husband...he's already wishing for a male child...OHH men... lol... My husband and i have decided to re home blue to any gentle and loving family that is willing to usher the full required time to her. Hope your family is gonna be the best for Blue if and only if, you can provide us with some info about your home...that will help us better understand your home. That's your family composition, their reactions towards pets in general, whether or not you've owned pets before and how do you intend welcoming Blue into your home. Well i will be willing to give out Blue to your home provided you are going to give her all the necessary care and attention that she deserves in the World. I am not very much concerned about money now, all I want is to ensure that Blue  finds a good home. All i will ask from you as adoption fee is $350.

Blue needs a home where she will be out of her cage most of the day, getting lots of attention for that is what she's used to. If you think you are interested in Blue, then contact me. I will also include all of  her  toys and food samples. she's still a baby, and would make an excellent addition to any home. she's better than getting an old  parrot which will be hard to train. It will break my heart to part from her, so I would really enjoy a home that would keep me up dated on how she's adjusting. I'm not asking to see her, that would be too hard for me, but an update now and then and pictures also
would be good.

N/B, If you are not located around us, we will arrange for shipping of the parrot okay? We will also take care of the shipping cost from the $350 we are asking as adoption fee...so where are you located? Thanks

Any time an email drags on and on for twenty paragraphs clearly indicates it's a scam. I replied:

Hello Jessy: Thanks for getting back to me. I am very interested in this parrot. I live in Seattle so it would be really hard for me to check out the parrot in person and I want to be sure to get a healthy bird. So what I want you to do is send a $500 eCheck to my PayPal account. When the money clears I will pay you the $350 adoption fee and use the rest for a vet check when I receive the bird. Let me know when you're ready to send the eCheck and I'll email you my PayPal email. All the best! Michael

Silence. Shocking. I tried again:

Hello Jessy: I'm really disappointed that I haven't heard back from you. I am very interested in your Hyacinth macaw parrot Blue. Do you love your parrot as much as you say you do? Then contact me asap to let me know when you're ready to eCheck me $500 to my PayPal account so we can arrange the transfer of your parrot to my home here in Seattle. Waiting to hear from you. Michael

Still waiting. And formulating my next message. Our last attempt to elicit a response:

Hello Jessy (or Jess, or whatever the fuck your real name is): Hey, I'm still waiting to hear from you when you're going to send me your eCheck for $500 to take care of Blue bird. I guess you just don't really love your bird, do you? Michael

Don't expect we'll hear anything now.

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