From Colorado to Illinois, a horse thought to be lost in transport is found; two buyers are scammed – one is out the horse, one has an unsound horse; an insurance company is saved from a fraudulent claim; and it is all exposed by one nonprofit: Stolen Horse International, Inc., known as NetPosse.com.
Formed in 1998 after the theft and recovery of her husband’s horse, Idaho, NetPosse founder Debi Metcalfe worked this case behind the scenes once a report was received on this missing mare on August 5, 2011. In a matter of hours, Debi uncovered the whereabouts of the American Saddlebred mare, Standing Still, and the person who sold her to Ling An Fang in Illinois. The most important news she learned was that the mare called "Legs" is safe and alive, but she was sold two days before Ling’s transaction to a third party. In fact, the mare never left Colorado and there was no shipper.
The ordeal began when Ling, a first-time horse buyer, decided to purchase a horse online. Because she had never completed a transaction of this nature, Ling trusted the seller implicitly. She gladly paid the asking price for the mare, the veterinarian check, and the cost of shipping the mare from Colorado to Illinois.
When the transportation company failed to show, the seller told Ling that the shipper, along with his wife and four horses, was missing in transit. Not one to sit idly by, Ling quickly filed an online report with NetPosse.com. She needed answers and to find the mare she already adored, sight unseen.
After contacting NetPosse, volunteers processed her report, created a flyer and began disseminating the missing horse information worldwide to thousands of NetPosse members and hundreds of list groups worldwide. As Ling’s plea was sent out in the form of a NetPosse.com Alert, the horse community’s equivalent of the Amber Alert, answers began to come forth. However, they were not those expected.
Utilizing NetPosse’s all-volunteer network and contacts cultivated in the equine industry from aiding the public in locating missing and stolen horses, the tale the seller wove to Ling began unraveling shortly after Legs' report was posted on NetPosse.com. A witness saw the report on the site, and contacted Debi. This led to communications by Debi with the witness, the seller, and the insurance company, and the truth was discovered in short order.
This witness was present when Legs was sold prior to Ling’s transaction. Now renamed, the mare was purchased for a young girl who fell in love with her. The family that bought Legs was coerced by the seller into paying back board on top of the asking price before learning the mare had been foundered. In fact, the seller did not even mark the horse as “sold” in the ad online until after Debi spoke to her regarding the suspicious transaction.
Ling’s situation is a lesson in “Buyer Beware” when you purchase a horse, sight unseen, from a stranger. Finding Legs alive was a relief, but Ling will never be able to claim the mare as her own. With her heart and trust broken, Ling is determined to stop this seller from conning other people in the horse world. Not surprisingly, it has come to light that the seller has a trail of suspicious activity in several western states along with numerous judgments for collection against her. This seller needs to be stopped, and legal options to do so are being explored.
While thousands of transactions occur successfully online every day, there are measures to be taken to ensure that you are not being scammed. Aside from tips found on www.netposse.com, the nonprofit is supported by other organizations such as RateMyHorsePro.com. Rate My Horse PRO is geared to assist all parties involved in horse transactions. The seller, who previously advertised herself as a horse trainer in Colorado, under two different business names, gave herself a high rating on the site. However, she was immediately banned for entering fraudulent information thanks to the site's identity verification.
The NetPosse network works, and is continuously forming partnerships within the equine industry to protect the horses that are so important to us. Please join NetPosse.com and learn more about protecting yourself and your horses from all types of theft.