Report shows fraudulent pet sales schemes on the rise

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By Allison Matos

For many, adopting a new furry friend during the pandemic offered a sense of camaraderie during an otherwise lonely lockdown. But those looking for a dog, cat, bird or other pet are four times more likely to be scammed since the start of the pandemic.

The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker shows more reports of pet scam sites in April 2020 in the US and Canada than in the first three months of the year combined. The number of pet fraud complaints rose to 337 in November 2020; there were 77 for the same month in 2019.

“The data shows that the average cost of each scam is an average loss of $ 750, and people between the ages of 35 and 50 made up half of the victims,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of BBB Metro NY .

BBB and law enforcement warn against buying a pet online because scam ads are common.

“Conversations usually start with the scammer giving the reasons why you can’t see your pet in person,” says Rosenzweig. “Then they ask for a bond, or funding for shipping, vaccines, etc. “

If you can’t get an appointment to meet the animal, request a video call. If an image is provided to you, perform a reverse image search on the photo to see what the data reveals.

If you have proof that your new pet exists, be aware of the market value. Scammers try to sell animals if they know you are desperately looking for a certain breed. If you are making a purchase, do not wire money or use gift cards. Use a credit card if possible as your bank may be able to process a refund if necessary.

“However, don’t fill out an online form with your account information,” says Rosenzweig. “Scammers usually can’t process a credit card. You will fill out the form and get an error message, and now they have your credit card information.

If you buy a pet online or have done so in the past, monitor your credit and watch for any suspicious activity on your account. If you believe you have been scammed, you can report the incident to the BBB,, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Of course, the best way to avoid getting ripped off is to adopt, not shop. Reputable shelters and rescues can be understaffed and overwhelmed due to the pandemic, but with millions of homeless animals on Long Island, patience is the key to finding your perfect companion. Be sure to check shelter websites, complete adoption applications, and make an appointment. Your best friend can be just a click or a call away for a reasonable price!

This story first appeared on our sister post

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