Getting Bit By A Scammer The Truth About Pet Scams

Puppy Scams and Fraud 

You’ve been contemplating getting a new furry family member. Especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s all too tempting not to hop on your laptop and start looking for the perfect addition to your family. Whether it’s a puppy, kitten, or exotic bird – animal companions help relieve the stress and loneliness of spending long periods of time at home. Pets make our home, a home. And scammers will go to great lengths to take advantage of that. Prepare to dive deep into the truth about pet scams, what to look out for when adopting a pet online, how to avoid being scammed, and what to do if you have been scammed. I will also provide solutions on how to keep your pet safe in cases of emergency, such as losing your pet. 

Let’s jump into it! 

Shopping for pets online can be more convenient than looking for one in your area. The options are limitless, and you can find your favorite breed from the comfort of your home. Whether it’s your first pet, or you’re looking to get your pet a new friend, searching for the perfect one online has become so simple. And these days, we can purchase just about anything online – from houses to cars, and of course, all sorts of pets. 

Pet Scams

Pet scammers

Pet scammers know what they’re doing, and they know how to hook you. With adorable photos and heart-warming stories of animals looking for forever homes, they can easily tempt you to adopt a pet while making you pay for vaccinations and shipping and other necessities. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the problem of scams, as many people in isolation crave a companion to keep them company. During the first year of the pandemic, pet adoptions online increased up to 70 percent, making it easier than ever for scammers to trick you into adopting a pet and steal your money. In the following year, the number increased drastically and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars due to online pet scams. With pet scams becoming more and more frequent, legitimate internet pet sites and shelters have been losing business due to customer’s fear of being scammed. 

What Is A Pet Scam?

Before really getting into it, what makes a pet scam a scam? One of the most common pet scams include nonexistent animals for sale by private sellers or illegitimate pet adoption websites offering pets for sale, and usually, for “really good deals”. Unfortunately, there is no pet and the entire process is a scam seeking to get your money. Scammers will often come up with excuses to collect money from the buyer, involving ridiculous charges for creates, food, and other travel necessities. Before you realize you’ve been scammed it’s too late and you may be out thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it but a broken heart. 

Another common scam does in fact involve a pet. Some sellers will purposely sell you sick pets, such as dogs with kennel cough or giardia, which is transmissible to humans. Pets will show up sick or have behavioral problems and show aggression which was obviously not mentioned in the advertisement. There have been reports of exotic birds with diseases sold for hundreds of dollars. Most illnesses are life-threatening without immediate treatment, and you’ll not only be left with a chunk of money out of your account, but a dying pet as well. 

Another type of scam involves selling stolen pets. Yes, people can be that cruel and sell lost pets, even if they have a tag with your information on it. Sadly, no one thinks they will fall for a scam and lose thousands of dollars until it eventually happens to them. 

Puppy Scams and Fraud 

Where’s My Pet? 

Unfortunately, there are many different pet scams out there. And some are harder to pick out than others. Some scans promise you a free puppy seeking a forever home, but require you to pay shipping and vaccinations. Sounds like a good deal, right? And it may sound even more believable if it’s coming from a puppy mill or shelter. 

Scammers are creative, and will come up with any excuse to distract you from the idea of being scammed. They’ll make sure to say the right things, and often will tell you what you want to hear. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers may tell you that your puppy is stuck at the airport due to customs complications, and before you know it, they’re asking to pay the airport fees. Only for you to end up with money out of your pocket, and no pet. Not only does it affect your bank account, but it affects your feelings too. When purchasing a pet online, we spend time, money and energy into getting everything set up. We anticipate our new furry friend – it’s an emotional investment. 

Scammers are aware of who they’re targeting, and love to prey on kindhearted dog lovers. Ultimately, all it takes is the perfect picture of an animal longing for a home and a short sob story for someone to click “adopt” and enter their payment details.  

The two most common dogs used for scamming are English bulldogs and Yorkshire terriers as they are popular breeds. Scammers love to trick you into thinking you’ve found a deal you can’t refuse.

Red Flags and Warning Signs 

SCAM-Pets

Learning about the red flags when it comes to animal scams is crucial. There are techniques scammers use to trap you into believing you’ve found the perfect pet, with the perfect deal. By learning about the common tactics scammers use to trick you and steal your money, you avoid having it ever happen to you. 

Poorly written emails

Scammers love to copy and paste. They’re too busy trying to scam you to worry about language and grammar errors. 

No phone number

Scammers don’t accidentally provide little information. A seller should provide you with all of their contact information, if they don’t, make sure to ask for it. Keep in mind that scammers don’t enjoy confrontation, so if the seller avoids your emails or calls, that’s not a good sign. 

Emotional threats

Money will be a scammer’s first priority. And a scammer will try to make you feel bad if you don’t choose to follow through with the adoption process. Getting a pet is a big decision, you should never feel pressured into it. 

Limited payment options

 Legitimate breeders and shelters have basic forms of payment. If you only get one option for payment, that could potentially be a red flag. Bear in mind that the top fraudulent payment options include Western Union and MoneyGram. Don’t agree to wire money for a pet purchase or through a prepaid debit card. Insist on using a credit card, that way you’ll have purchase protection and a way to back out of the transaction if something goes wrong. 

Be wary of a long distance seller

You should have no problem finding your perfect pet around your area. 

Don’t fall for free pets

If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably because it is. It’s very unlikely to find the English Setter of your dreams for free.  

Listings on Craigslist, social media, websites or sponsored links on internet searches

Scammers copy legitimate websites to fool victims and post whatever they think will work to successfully scam you. 

How To Adopt A Pet Online Without Getting Scammed 

pet scam

Doing your research is the number one thing to do when purchasing a pet through a breeder or seller. If you can’t seem to find anything on the breeder or seller, such as real reviews and contact information, look somewhere else. Don’t bother trying to dig deeper, reputable breeders remain transparent. Don’t let that cute picture distract you. Everything you need to know and see should be on the page, so if it’s not, run the other direction. You can also reverse search the images of the animals on the online posts and ads. Scammers typically reuse images frequently. 

Meet the seller or arrange a video chat. Meeting the seller helps you determine their knowledge, and you may even be able to meet your potential new furry friend. If the seller can’t tell you much it’s a warning sign that they’re not legitimate. A seller may refuse wanting to meet with you due to covid-19 regulations. In this case, you could insist on meeting them and your potential pet online through video chat. 

How A Pet Scam Works

Pet scammers would usually target buyers in different countries to eliminate the chances of the potential buyer wanting to come for a visit. Pet scams are not a new problem, and although they’ve skyrocketed since the pandemic, they’ve always been an issue. According to the US Better Business Bureau, up to 80 percent of all sponsored advertising links to pet websites were created by scammers to advertise their websites. Scammers will tell you that they must use a pet delivery agency, such as an airline. And they may also demand fees for vaccinations or other final “needs”. 

The strategies used in pet scams continue to evolve, just like every other scam out there. Scammers require payments through untraceable platforms such as Zelle, Google Pay, Cashapp, Venmo and Apple Pay. 

If you’ve realized that you’ve been scammed, contact the company or bank that issued the credit or debit card and inform them of the fraudulent charge. You could possibly get the transaction reversed and get your money back, but it’s not always the case. It’s important to report the seller, to ensure that it doesn’t happen to anyone else. If you come across a potential scammer – report them. 

Protect Your Pet At All Costs 

Along with the fear of getting pet-scammed, losing a pet is just, if not more terrifying. And unfortunately, it happens all the time. On average, 10 million pets are lost in the US each year, and most of them end up in the nation’s animal shelters. Over 80 percent of pets are never found or reunited with their rightful owner. 

FOUND ME has come up with an innovative solution for helping owners get their lost pets back. A dog tag consisting of a QR code and linked to an IOS or Android app is just the solution. When a lost dog roams around the streets, the first thing people do is look at their collar hoping to find any useful information. In most cases, the phone number or address is old and no longer in use. With the FOUND ME tag, any good samaritan can scan the QR code and contact the owner and up to 5 additional contacts through an automated and secure chat. No information about your whereabouts will be released. 

Securing your pet with a FOUND ME QR code tag can increase the chances of a good samaritan getting in contact with you or one of your other emergency contacts before a scammer does. To learn more about FOUND ME and how you protect your beloved pets, visit https://foundme.com for more information. 

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We are all at risk of losing the people pets and valuables that mean the most to us. FOUND ME was created as a global solution to tamper this risk and provide peace of mind. We exist to protect everyone and everything important in our customer’s lives.

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