Geneva, 24 August 2007
The CITES Secretariat wishes to draw the attention
of wildlife purchasers to Internet scams related, in particular,
The Secretariat sees on a regular basis false documents that
purport to be CITES export permits or re-export certificates.
They are often accompanied by other counterfeit, forged or falsified
documents, such as veterinary health certificates, breeder or
exporter licences and animal health inspector qualification certificates.
Documents like these are attached to messages encouraging recipients
to purchase wildlife.
It seems highly likely that none of the authors of these messages
has any access to wildlife or, indeed, any intention to supply
wildlife. Instead, their intention is to persuade potential customers
to pay for specimens in advance but without sending them anything
Some of the false documents appear simply to have been invented
by the perpetrators of these frauds and bear no resemblance to
genuine documents. They usually, however, do have the appearance
of being official documents, such as might be issued by a government
department. They commonly incorporate the logo or emblem of a
ministry or department, the flag of the country where they were
allegedly issued, and counterfeit signatures and seals of authorizing
officers. The documents are usually in English but some are in
French or are bilingual (English and French). However, it is becoming
increasingly common for false documents to be based upon genuine
Fraudulent documents have been supplied to potential purchasers
of wildlife as ‘proof’ of the seller’s capacity
to engage in trade. Although different species are offered, the
majority of cases appear to involve birds.
In the past, it appears that potential customers in Europe and
North America have been the primary targets of such offers for
sale. However, this practice seems to be spreading and persons
in central Asia and Australia are now also being approached.
The CITES Secretariat recommends to anyone who receives unrequested
offers over the Internet that they contact their national CITES
Management Authority to check the authenticity and validity of
any accompanying documents. Contact details for these authorities
are available on the National
contacts and information page.
The Secretariat discourages customers who wish to purchase wildlife
from sending any money in advance, unless they are completely
satisfied that the seller is a genuine trader. Persons who have
been the victims of such a fraud should contact their local police.