Scammers are fully aware of all the regulations regards payment, especially with PayPal and manipulate them to their advantage. A typical transaction request which should be treated with caution is having the parcel sent to a different address (not the address given on the buyers PayPal account) – this renders the 'seller protection guarantee' invalid. Another trick is to send an empty box so the tracking shows the item as being sent and delivered, but when you receive the parcel there is nothing inside.
'Ants were all dead on arrival' is the most common ploy for claiming payments back as ‘item not as described’. Others will send a small deposit up front with the promise to send the balance after delivery – be warned, it will never be paid!
Any buyers that don’t have a PayPal account have likely been banned / blacklisted by PayPal because of previous problems – usually because of a large number of outstanding unsettled claims. PayPal will then refuse to give them an account. Hence, those buyers wanting to use accounts of other family members or friends should be treated with particular caution - and never pay for goods by the likes of a Western Union money transfer, as once sent you can say goodbye to your money.
Dealing with people who used to trade commercially in ants in the past should also be treated with the utmost caution. They will know many of the scams which caused their own business to collapse. They seem to despise existing businesses which have proven successful while theirs was not - and seem to think because they have been cheated in the past it is their right to try and steal from others.
Unfortunately, with modern communication and e-commerce much of the selling and buying
in this industry is done between people that never actually meet face to face.
This seems to encourage a lot of scamming (theft) by a small group of people whose sole aim seems to be - to either obtain money from prospective customers with no intention of ever sending them anything, or obtain colonies from sellers with the intention of not paying or claiming their payment back after the colonies have been received.
Certain (not all) facebook groups should be treated with caution. Some groups are administered by unscrupulous sellers and are set up under the guise of passing on knowledge - but in reality are solely used for promoting their own sales. These sellers frequently maintain additional false facebook accounts under different names, and use these to praise their own service and spread false rumors about the competition. Any complaints against them are blocked - so that dissatisfied customers cannot place any comments. After the word against them spreads in the other facebook groups, they will simply close their group and then shortly after, open another under a different name. Hence, always check when the group was started and be wary of those that have an administrator who is also selling ants.
Scammers are members of most facebook groups and when their previous actions have resulted in them being banned / blocked they simply rejoin using another name. With this in mind dealings between individual’s unknown to each other is often a high risk action.
Those involved in scamming will be most courteous at first giving the impression of being a close friend. However, once the product has been sent they will invent an excuse to complain, and will not send payment or demand their money back – be warned once they have what they want their attitude will change very quick!
When you are considering a purchase check out the seller’s profile. Try and find out how long have they had a facebook account and how long have they been a member of the group for. New group members who have only just joined facebook should be treated with great caution.
Saying this there are reputable sellers out there and facebook groups with honest intentions - but use common sense and don’t believe everything that is stated.
Many scammers open shops on the internet / facebook / e-bay etc; to tempt potential customers to part with their money. New shops as such frequently appear and then after a few months stop responding - and the owner ‘disappears’ along with all the customers payments for goods yet to be delivered.
To be absolutely safe you should purchase from an established shop that has a web site and has been trading for several years. Established long term sites have invested their own money to maintain the site, and over the time they have operated will have become known to the public and are obviously a lot more trustworthy.
Make sure any shops you are thinking of buying from clearly display their business address and telephone number, along with their terms and conditions - which you can refer back too, should something go wrong. Those that don't display a contact address and are vague or dont state their terms and conditions should be avoided.
Many dubious sellers also try and take payments / deposits in advance for colonies that are due to be delivered to them, but which they have not actually received yet. They will tempt potential customers by telling them stock is limited and they will sell out fast. Don’t be fooled into paying for something that the seller has not actually got. If anything happens to his shipment and the colonies don’t arrive it is very unlikely the seller will refund your payment.
Ask yourself these questions: How much effort has the seller actually put into their online site. Is it a quick one night construction or have they committed considerable time and effort into it. Is the content original or has it simply been copied and modified from other sites.
Saying all this: - even the few long term reputable sellers have started out as a new shop at one time. But be cautious and use common sense before parting with your money.
You should be skeptical about being offered very low priced stock or fall for the 'special sale' ploy as there is usually a reason for this - typically the colonies are not viable and are on the point of collapse before you even receive them, and don’t be fooled by those wonderful ‘unpacking videos’ frequently seen on facebook. Some buyers approach sellers and offer to do these videos and praise the supplier in return for a discount on what they want to buy. These unpacking videos are just a subtle form of ‘unpaid for advertising’ and they are not posted because the buyer is so amazingly pleased with his purchase.
Many of the Chinese suppliers are well known for selling very poor quality stock. A typical scam involves species which have no identifiable queen like some of the Diacamma - in this genus the egg laying gamergate looks the same as the other members of the colony. Here the sellers will simply split large colonies into two or three parts - selling the separate parts as complete colonies and obviously only one part will contain the gamergate. The others will die out.
With some other species which are similar and difficult to tell apart such as Carebara affinis and Carebara diversa they will sell the easy to catch affinis as diversa. The true diversa is easier to keep, but it is quite difficult to obtain as the single queen is always deep down at the base of the nest. With affinis there are often in the region of 10-20 queens in a colony and the queens are found near the top of the nest. However, the queens of affinis are much less productive than the diversa queens. C. diversa is also easier to establish and responds well to captivity - while in comparison C. affinis is quite difficult to maintain.
Another scam they use is to send female alates which have had their wings cut off and then been given some brood / workers from their mother colony - to make it look like an established young colony. Obviously in time these 'manufactured fake colonies' will simply die off.
In this case the existing brood / workers will keep the colony alive for a few months, and then if you complain the supplier will simply say you have had them for a significant time and have probably been keeping them under the wrong conditions, so it is not their fault.
You should also beware of some sellers that only act as intermediaries and just purchase in bulk from places such as China. These intermediate dealers who buy like this just put a mark up on the stock, and resell them as quick as possible for a nice profit. They rarely keep the colonies for any length of time and hence are frequently oblivious that many of the colonies are destined to die.
The philosophy here is as with most products ‘Buy cheap – get poor quality’.
Our advice if buying ants:
* Be very careful if dealing with someone you have only known for a short time.
* Check the seller’s profile. How long have they been a member of the group for - and how long have they had a facebook account? Beware of group members who have only recently joined facebook.
* Be wary of very cheap stock – why is it so cheap?
* Never pay for goods by Western Union money transfer.
* Don’t pay in advance for stock that the dealer does not yet have. Wait until the seller actually has the stock.
* Be careful when dealing with newly opened online shops.
* Be very cautious if dealing with online shops that don’t show their business address and telephone number.
* Ensure the sellers site gives detailed 'terms and conditions' - which you can refer back too if something goes wrong.
Our advice if selling ants:
* Don’t send parcels to a different address than that shown on the buyers PayPal account.
* Beware of buyers that do not have a PayPal account.
* Don’t deal with buyers who want to use their family members or friends PayPal accounts.
* Don’t accept deposits with the promise of payment after the goods are received.
* Ensure all parcels are sent by registered post / recorded delivery.
To be absolutely safe you should purchase from a supplier who has been trading for a minimum of two years,
has an established informative online site that clearly states their business terms - and gives their full contact details.