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Internet horse scammer admits string of ripoffs

September 1, 2010

by Laurie Dixon

A California woman who scammed at least 61 prospective horse buyers by misrepresenting horses for sale on the internet has agreed to plead guilty to fraud.

» Don't get scammed on internet horse deals!


Trina Kenney coloured two horses to make them black.
Trina Lee Kenney, 32, of Wrightwood, claimed the horses she was selling were well-bred pedigree animals registered with breed organisations. She made claims about their abilities and temperament and health that were proved untrue.

She was undone in an FBI and US Postal Service undercover operation.

Kenney admitted to drugging one horse before a buyer examined it, and had coloured at least two horses to make them appear black.

However, most of the sales were based on sight-unseen sales, involving images of quality horses Kenney posted on websites.

She either failed to deliver a horse after people had paid over their money, or in some cases delivered totally different animals.

Kenney accepted that various horses she had delivered were starved, covered in sores and cuts, had hooves that so long the horses were unable to walk, or were suffering from the contagious respiratory disease, strangles.

United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr said Kenney had agreed to plead guilty to a federal fraud charge, admitting that she used websites to defraud would-be purchases.

In a plea deal, Kenney will admit her guilt in respect to mail fraud for defrauding at least 61 prospective horse buyers residing in 23 states and Canada.

Birotte, who works for the United States Attorney's Office in central california, said Kenney's internet ads made false claims, including that horses were specific breeds or had specific pedigrees, that the horses were registered with national or international organisations, and that the horses had specific physical characteristics, abilities, and temperaments.

Kenney also made false claims over the horses' health and that buyers would be protected by a "money back" guarantee.

Kenney encouraged interested buyers to place deposits or pay for horses in full by falsely representing that others were interested in buying the animal, or that a particular horse was being sold at a discount because it needed to be sold quickly.

Doing business under several names - including Prestige Distribution, Horses and Ponies, and Star Horses - Kenney advertised the horses for sale on sites that included dreamhorse.com, eqine.com, equinenow.com, horsetopia.com and agdirect.com.

After receiving payment, Kenney defrauded customers in several ways, including failing to provide a horse, failing to refund money to victims who received substandard horses, or delivering a horse completely different from the horse the victim had agreed to purchase.

When victims complained or sought to exercise the promised guarantee, Kenney refused to return phone calls or emails, falsely claimed the victims had themselves breached sales contracts, and threatened to sue them for "defaming" her.

After Kenney's victims posted complaints about her fraudulent scheme on internet bulletin boards and in horse-related chat rooms, Kenney began using a series of aliases to conceal her identity and continue the fraudulent scheme.

Kenney tried to sell a horse to an FBI agent and a United States postal inspector. Both were undercover.

After accepting $US5000 in payments for the purchase of Azure - a Friesian mare Kenney had fabricated - Kenney did not respond to email or email messages from the undercover agents.

In the plea deal announced this week, Kenney also admitted that she lied when she made claims that horses she sold were safe for children and beginner riders.

Kenney also admitted that she drugged a horse to make it appear docile during a victim's examination of the horse, and that she had painted at least two horses to make them appear black, rather than brown.

She admitted that various horses she delivered were starved or otherwise in poor condition.

Kenney will appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles on September 7 for arraignment.

The mail fraud Kenney will admit carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

The case against Kenney is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

 

 

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