AARP Fraud Watch: Pet Adoption Scams

(WHTM) — More than four million dogs and cats are adopted each year in the United States. If you’re looking for a pet online, chances are you’ll come across a scam at some point.

About 70% of people targeted by pet scams have lost more than $700. According to AARP, here are the warning signs of animal adoption scams:

  • The asking price is well below the normal rate
  • They insist on shipping the animal and refuse to meet in person
  • Seller emails have poor spelling and grammar
  • The seller requests payment by bank transfer, gift card or prepaid debit card
  • And your pet’s delivery is continually hampered by demands
  • Whether you transfer more money to cover insurance, pet food or veterinary care

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You should research what reputable breeders charge for the breed of animal you are interested in. Research the seller’s email address and web address to see if there are any online complaints associated with them.

Many of the victims of pet adoption scams are in their late teens or twenties.

AARP says:

  • Don’t buy or adopt a pet unless you can meet it in person
  • Don’t be swayed by genuine websites
  • Scammers slip photos, videos and testimonials onto legit pet sites and create fake web pages
  • Don’t deal with someone who doesn’t provide a phone number and doesn’t accept credit card payment
  • And don’t believe the threats the animal will face or you’ll face criminal charges if you don’t keep sending money.

You can also consider adopting from a local animal shelter, rescue group, or humane society.

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About Patrick K. Moon

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