You only have to search 'Black Night Leopard Gecko' into Instagram or Facebook to see dozens of fake profiles and pages trying to sell animals they don't have for hundreds of dollars each. Unfortunately my own photos have been stolen numerous times, and there's very little that can be done once they're taken.
In order to hopefully reduce the amount of people losing money to scammers like this, I have created a list of things to look out for when you're looking into a breeder. I have ranked each point by reliability to hopefully make it easy to use!
A scammer using my photos
Reviews, followers, and page likes
Often these scammers will have pages which are very new, and will only have a dozen or so followers. This is a fairly big red flag, although not everybody puts effort into their socials so it's not guarantee. On the other hand, having lots of followers is no guarantee either! Some of these scammers invest heavily in trying to build a reputable seeming brand so will buy followers. However, if you look at their engagement it will be lacking. An account with 10,000 real followers should be getting around 1000 likes per post; a fake account will not have these numbers.
A lot of the time scammers will have taken photos from multiple breeders, so photo style, background etc will all be very inconsistent. Above is a screenshot from our own Instagram. Although it's not all identical, there are reoccurring themes (gloved hand holding a gecko, geckos on slate), and you can see the same gecko being posted multiple times in different formats.
Often scammers will use very specific wording which is quite different to how real breeders will advertise. On platforms such as Facebook and even Instagram animal sales are not allowed, so breeders will use terms such as 'Non-holdback' and 'Ready to fly' as opposed to 'For Sale' or 'For Rehoming'.
Here is an example of a scammers post:
The above screenshot is, unfortunately, from a real scammer. You can see them using all of the key words possible in the hopes that they come up on people's searches. A real breeder would list each animal like this:
Usually they have the same 'speeches' which are copied and pasted over multiple pages to make them seem real. A few examples below:
If you need a High End list in August, please contact Line. Due to the heat, courier transactions are not possible and only direct receipt from FedEx is possible. There is no additional cost other than the individual fee. P lease contact us if you are interested. Thank you
Black night leopard geckos, while large at anywhere from 75-150 grams at maturity, are pretty chill pet reptiles. The Super giants have some of the most relaxed and calm personalities in the reptile kingdom once they are used to being handled. They’re perfect for beginners and extremely popular among long time reptile collectors alike.Black night leopard geckos, while large at anywhere from 75-150 grams at maturity, are pretty chill pet reptiles. The Super giants have some of the most relaxed and calm personalities in the reptile kingdom once they are used to being handled. They’re perfect for beginners and extremely popular among long time reptile collectors alike.
We have some gorgeous black night leopard geckos for sale ,we have a biologist on site, and handle our baby black night leopard gecko for sale inventory is handled early and often in order to ensure a friendly, calm and relaxed pet, and only work with top genetics to ensure we are improving the captive bred species as part of our efforts to provide the best possible pet geckos for sale in the world.
Note the poor grammar, and how it all feels a little like it's been copy and pasted sentence by sentence from different sources.
Best way to avoid being scammed!
The absolute best way to avoid being scammed is to follow these rules:
Look for external reviews
Use Google image reverse search tools to ensure photos are original
Check for other people's watermarks on photos
Speak to the breeder and ask detailed questions about hatch dates, weights, lineage and ask about the parents of the gecko. They should have all of this info.
Ask for a video with something random - a fork, a coke bottle etc. If they actually have the gecko and are able to send this video then at least you know the gecko exists.
The best advice I can give is 'when in doubt, walk away'.