A week ago, I posted a blog “The price of a “tuko” or tokay gecko” about my Filpino father’s handyman fattening up a tokay gecko to 300 grams so he can sell it for PhP600,000. The price, to me, seemed an outrageously huge amount for a loudmouth, but oh so cool, pet. So I went online to look at prices for this lizard. It turns out that they don’t sell for that much. And that most of the prices on buy-and-sell ads for tokays are hyped up, or worse, they are part of a scam.
Anyone can fall victim to the tuko scam. A posting on a blog, TJSDaily, explains in detail a scam scenario. But basically here is how it goes:
ConArtist #1 either posts an ad, or mentions casually to would-be victim, that he wants to buy a 300 gram, or heavier, tokay. He cites an outrageously large amount that he’s willing to pay for it, and leaves his cellphone number. Potential victim doesn’t have a tokay, but informs ConArtist 1 that he’ll keep an out eye for one.
Enter ConArtist #2, ConArtist #1′s accomplice, who’s selling a tokay for a large sum, but still a small fraction compared to what ConArtist 1 is offering. Wanting to make a huge profit, victim contacts ConArtist 1 saying he has the tokay. Victim buys tokay from ConArtist#2. Both ConArtists #1 and #2 disappear, their cellphones disconnected. Victim is left with a worthless merchandise.
This modus operandi is nothing new, and not unique to tokays. Four years ago, a rich widow had been scammed millions using the same M.O. but involving supposedly expensive pearl oyster feed. Both buyer and seller disappeared after the widow paid the seller. The packaged “feed” was actually liver pate or spread.
Scams and scammers come in all shapes and sizes. The lesson here is if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.