Reports of pet scams in April more than tripled compared with March. Have you seen one? Here’s how they work and what you need to watch out for.
Carole had been looking for a golden retriever puppy and saw an advert on the classified adverts website Loot.
She emailed the advertiser and was told that they had two 11-week-old pups to choose from, who needed a new home because their owner had died.
The seller provided photographs and said that she would need to pay £300, which included delivery from Orkney via a specialist animal delivery service.
But things just didn’t feel quite right, so she requested the microchip number and details of their current vet. Carole never heard anything further.
Pet scams on the rise
It’s likely this scam is designed to liberate people from £300 for a non-existent puppy.
Pet scams have soared during lockdown, according to fraud reporting centre Action Fraud. It said that it received 524 reports of it in April – more than three times the number in March.
Loneliness was being cruelly exploited by criminals.
Would-be pet owners are strongly encouraged to visit animals in person first before buying, and many legitimate breeders would insist on it to ensure pets are going to loving and responsible owners.
However, lockdown made such visits difficult, and fraudsters sought to capitalise on it.
What should I ask for when buying a pet?
Ask for a pet’s inoculation history, breed paperwork and certification before paying, to ensure that the pet both exists and was bred legally.
Payment via bank card or PayPal gives you greater protection than a bank transfer.
Consider adopting from a rescue centre. If you’re buying from a dog breeder, you can find reputable ones via the Kennel Club.
Did you notice an increase in pet scams during lockdown? Have you ever attempted to buy a pet only to think something wasn’t quite right?
Let us know in the comments, and help warn as many people as possible to stop fraudsters taking advantage of people in such a cruel way.