We live in an age where anything can be summoned from the internet with a credit card number and the click of a mouse—even pets! The web is a great resource for browsing through shelters, reliable breeders, and Craigslist ads, but how can you differentiate the real deal from the rest?
According to a study by the Better Business Bureau, approximately 80% of sponsored ads that show up in searches for pets may be fake. Thousands of people all over the world are falling victim to pet scammers, losing anywhere from $100 to $1,000, and in one case, a whopping $5,000! Save yourself the time and money by heeding the following indications of a pet scammer.
Keep an eye out for these signs when surfing the net for your next best friend. Encountering one may very well mean you have a scammer on your paws.
Does it look like a stock photo? Is the pup perfectly posed or does he look almost unreal? If the picture looks too good to be true, chances are, it is! Photo quality aside, most respectable breeders will be happy to arrange a meet and greet before the sale is made, so you can make sure Fluffy is everything he was made out to be online.
Along the same lines as photos — if the Pomsky puppy of your dreams has a ticket price you can’t believe then you probably shouldn’t believe it. Even if it is a real offer, you get what you pay for.
Bad Spelling and Grammar
Most scammers are actually from foreign countries. When reading through listings or communicating with a seller, watch out for strange wording and misspellings that may indicate a foreign writer.
Refusing to Talk
Be wary of any seller that insists on communicating solely through email. Breeders, shelters, and rescues will almost always require a potential adopter to speak with them over the phone at some point. Phone screening is an important measure to make sure adopters can provide a safe, happy life for the animal.
If a seller only accepts payment via Western Union or MoneyGram, steer clear! Money wires are notorious for being nearly untraceable and completely non-refundable. Whether you’re buying a pet, a gently used coffee table, or a year’s supply of cheese puffs, never wire money to someone you haven’t met face to face.
Weird Stories and Excuses
Scammers will usually weave stories about why they need money wired immediately, or excuses for not being able to deliver your puppy. They often tie their explanations to current events in order to sound more believable. Trustworthy sources will be transparent and handle payments directly so you can be sure of who exactly you’re dealing with.
Upon request, any reputable shelter, breeder, or rescue will provide new owners with their pup’s registration, vaccination, and veterinary records.
Help! I may have already fallen for a scam!
Are you already a victim of a pet scammer? Here are some resources to utilize:
Department of Homeland Security
866-347-2423 (from US and Canada)
Federal Trade Commission
File a report with BBB’s Scam Tracker
Post at Petscams.com
Contact the FBI Cybercrimes Unit
Sent money through MoneyGram, Western Union, or Green Dot?
Contact the company directly.
We’ve got you covered no matter where you live.