Horse walkers are being advertised for well below their value on eBay, in a scam that is being investigated by police.
The adverts are all for a Monarch Horse Exerciser Consort Plus (not pictured) with a roof at various locations including London, Stoke and Ashbourne.
One small-livery yard owner, who preferred to remain anonymous, lost £4,500 after trying to buy a secondhand Monarch horse walker on eBay.
The advert had two pictures and a brief description of the walker, which the seller said was in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and could be easily delivered.
The buyer was alerted to the fraud when she rang Monarch to ask if the walker would run on a generator. The company asked where the horse walker was and warned she might be being scammed as they had had reports of fraudulent activities.
Suspicious, the buyer asked for her money back. Despite the seller saying he would refund her, he never did.
The case was reported to the police who said it was linked to a European international criminal gang and is being investigated.
Monarch Equestrian has had several reports from others who have also fallen victim to the second-hand Monarch horse walker scam on eBay.
The company put its own advert out on eBay four weeks ago using the same pictures as the fraudulent horse walker listing.
When a potential buyer clicks on the ad by Monarch Equestrian they are warned about the fraud, which is currently taking place.
The ad stays up for the same time as the fraudulent listing and is repeated every time one goes up.
“We log every Monarch walker that goes out and if anyone is worried they should call us and we will be able to verify the authenticity of the product,” said Fiona Hardy from Monarch Equestrian.
A press officer from eBay told H&H: “Fraudsters use very sophisticated methods to try and emulate trusted websites, which is why it is so important to remember that any transaction not completed on the eBay platform, including a transaction where a customer follows instructions on an email and sends money to a bank account, is not an eBay transaction.
“People should always complete purchases or sales on eBay and PayPal and never rely on a third party email,” he added.
Buyers should beware of sellers who push for speedy completion of a transaction or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect a product before the purchase, warns eBay.
The H&H ad team has had no issues, but H&H’s Robina Shahid added: “If there are any problems then we will act immediately. If you are in doubt, call us on 0800 316 5450.”
The Police were not able to comment at this stage as not enough information was available.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (6 October 2014).