A horse dealer is warning buyers to be wary of scams after finding her videos were being used in fake sales adverts.
Dawn Janciauskas, who has been running Sports Horse Continental since 2003, was shocked when she was contacted recently about a horse she sold several years ago.
“A client emailed me about a grey stallion we sold to France saying ‘is he any good?’ He told me he was for sale in Hungary,” Dawn told H&H.
“I told him he definitely wasn’t in Hungary, I knew where he was and he was now jumping internationally.
“He forwarded me the advert and there were some photos which weren’t of the same horse, but were very like him, and then the video we’d made of him when had him for sale.
“The client had recognised Donny [Dawn’s husband] in it, which was why he’d got in touch.”
She added that Sports Horse Continental had never used agents and had always sold horses — who are mostly three and four-year-olds — themselves.
In the same week, an American buyer also contacted Dawn about a grey stallion for sale, saying she had arranged with the seller in Hungary to have it DNA tested and vetted.
“I told her that wouldn’t work as it doesn’t exist!” said Dawn. “They’ve been taking our videos and putting different breeding on the horse.
“It took a bit of time for her to understand it was a con.”
All of the adverts have appeared on Facebook and have so far involved the profiles of three different sellers based in Hungary.
“I think it might have been going on for some time before we found out, and I don’t think we’re the only people they’re doing this to,” Dawn cautioned. “They post the pictures and then tell people to message for video and more information, so the videos are shared privately and they’re less likely to be caught out.”
The horses have been offered for sale for around £16k — a lot of money for a potential buyer to lose.
“It’s a lot more worrying than the scams you hear about for tack for £100. People use their life savings or borrow money to buy a horse — to lose that in a con would be soul-destroying,” she said.
Dawn is now looking into putting branding on all of her videos, saying the scammers’ actions have made her “feel violated”.
“You work hard, even just making the videos, and then someone can taint it and ruin it,” she said.
Dawn added that while she would always advise people to go and see a horse before purchasing, it is not unusual in the horse world to buy internationally and unseen.
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“I’ve spent £50k on ten horses before now and you trust that they are going to arrive when you expect them to. You try and protect yourself by dealing with people you know that are reputable.
“There’s always something that’s a bargain that tempts people though — and if it looks too good to be true it probably is.”