Don’t Fall for Pet Adoption Scams

Even under normal circumstances, people tend to feel lonely during the holidays, but buying a pet to fill the emotional void is especially popular this year as we enter the holiday season amid a raging pandemic. Unfortunately, thousands of lonely Americans surfing the Internet in search of a quarantine pet find themselves victims of various fraudulent transactions that sell puppies and kittens for hundreds and give nothing in return. When considering adopting a pet this winter, first make sure you are not being fooled.

What are these scams?

Reports of pet adoption scams have skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic, according to the Better Business Bureau. BBB Scam Tracker has cataloged this spike, noting that 4,000 cases of pet fraud were reported in the US and Canada alone in 2020 alone. In April, when COVID-19 really began ravaging the country, there were more fraudulent pet sales recorded than in the previous three months of the year combined. Most of the scams are related to selling puppies, but about 12 percent are related to selling cats. The average loss reported by the BBB is $ 775. According to the BBB, the total forecasted fraud loss by the end of the year will be around $ 3 million.

According to the agency in a press release:

COVID-19’s rise continues into the holiday season, with consumers filing 337 puppy fraud complaints with the BBB in November 2020, up from 77 in the same month in 2019.

Scammers prey on people who want to revive their homes during the international crisis, so the personal stories of the victims obviously get pretty sad. Yahong Zhang from Omaha, Nebraska, paid $ 1,200 for two puppies to be sent to his six-year-old son after he fulfilled a promise to his father to practice piano. The puppies never came. Kanetria Hutcherson tried to replace her 10-year-old daughter’s cat with a new pet after she went missing, but was tricked by scammers who identified themselves as a family in Baltimore. The “little dog” she thought she was buying cost her $ 980 but never showed up. Stories like this are numerous and detailed in the BBB ‘s report on the rise in animal adoption fraud this year.

How to identify them

One of the darkest cases of pet adoption scams is when whoever you’re dealing with prevents you from physically seeing the pet before you pay for it. Scammers often do not accept major credit cards and request direct bank transfers or another form of payment via a mobile app or gift card, the agency notes.

In terms of best practice, the BBB recommends :

Take a look at your pet in person before you pay money. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, consider video calling the seller so you can see the seller and the actual pet for sale. Since scammers are unlikely to comply with the request, this can help avoid fraud.

Search the animal backward and find the distinguishing phrase in the description.

Do your research to get an idea of ​​the fair price for the breed in question. Think twice if someone advertises a purebred dog for free or at a heavily discounted price … it could be a scam.

Visit your local animal shelter online to find pets you may meet before adopting.

That these scams target people trying to do nice things for their families during the holidays is a solid testament to the reality. But by following some of these tips, you can be sure not to throw your money into the void and that the puppy you bought will actually show up at your door.

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