Even during normal times people have always sought comfort with getting a pet but during these especially difficult times they have become even more desirable. Unfortunately, thousands of lonely Americans scanning the web for a quarantine pet are finding themselves victims of assorted pet adoption scam operations. There are individuals and organisations selling puppies and kittens for hundreds but not actually delivering them. If you are considering adopting a pet ensure that you are not getting ripped off first.
The Better Business Bureau has reported there has been an enormous rise in reported pet adoption scams during the pandemic.. Their Scam Tracker has picked up on 4,000 instances of pet fraud were the U.S. and Canada during 2020. In April, when COVID-19 was having a serious effect, more fraudulent pet sales were recorded than during the three previous months of the year combined. Around 90% of the scams involved the sale of puppies with the remainder involving cats. The average loss reported amounted to $775 per sale. It has been estimated that scams will total around $3 million by the end of the year
What is a pet adoption scam?
These scams take advantage of people looking to bring something positive to their lives during a time of national crisis. Some of these stories are therefore very sad. Yahong Zhang of Omaha, Nebraska paid $1,200 for two puppies. These were due to be shipped to his six-year-old son after he had practiced hard on the piano as he had promised. The puppies however never arrived. Another person tried to buy a kitten for her daughter after her previous one went missing. It turned out that the scammers were just posing as a family from Baltimore and again it was never delivered. This left her $980 out of pocket. There are many more stories like these which can be found in the BBB’s report on the increase in animal adoption scams this year.
How to identify a scam
One very obvious giveaway of pet adoption scams is when whoever you’re in contact with doesn’t allow you to physically see the pet before you buy it. The scammers also dont often accept major credit cards and instead ask for direct bank wire transfers or another type of payment such as via mobile app or gift card.
Steps to avoid pet adoption scam
Make every attempt to see the pet before paying any money. Whilst this may not always be possible especially during the pandemic you can always ask for a video call. If it is a scam the seller will be unlikely to comply with your request.
Do a reverse image search of the photo of the pet on the internet to see if the image of the pet appears anywhere else guaranteeing it’s a fraudulent seller.
Do some research to find out how much is the typical price for the breed you are buying. If the price seems too good to be true then it probably isn’t a real seller.
Check out a neighborhood animal shelter online for pets so you’ll be able to meet before adopting and be confident that the organisation you’re buying from is legitimate.
It’s very sad that scams like this are targeting people trying to do good things for their families. Just by following the tips above however you’ll hopefully avoid the pitfalls of an unscrupulous seller. You can avoid losing large sums of money, whilst saving an animal.