While the coronavirus pandemic has wrought negative changes on many lives, some families found a silver lining: the extra time spent at home provided an opportunity to bring a new pet into the household. As a result, breeders, pet stores, and rescues often found themselves cleared out of animals as all their charges found new homes. This has led to families looking desperately for a cute puppy or kitten to call their own, making themselves the ideal targets for an online scam.
Normally, a person would want the opportunity to meet a pet before the adoption was complete, to make sure that the animal’s personality is compatible with their household’s lifestyle. They might go to a breeder and pick one puppy out of a litter, or go to the animal shelter and see which kitty seems perfect for their home. However, quarantine rules have changed everything, and many people have decided to rely on photos and conversations with the breeder or rescue in order to decide on a pet.
This makes things easy for online scam artists, as all they have to do is steal some photos of cute animals off of the internet, make up some stories about the animal’s personality and behavior, and then trick innocent victims out of their money.
While one might expect to pay a few hundred or a thousand dollars for a pet, depending on the breed and pedigree, scammers can find ways to get even more money out of would-be adopters. Because the family cannot come pick up the pet themselves, they’ll be asked to pay for a courier service or for the animal to be flown to them. They may also be asked to pay for vet visits to ensure the animal can cross state borders. Scammers are adept at inventing new expenses to get you to keep paying, and when emotions are on the line, as they are when a cute pet is involved, it’s easy for them to manipulate people into paying.
Like all money transfer scams, once the scammer feels they’ve gotten enough money from the victim, or once the victim gets suspicious, they disappear. Most likely, they then repeat the scam again on another platform, taking advantage of more families.
This is a sneaky scam, capable of tricking people who think they are scam-savvy. Even if you know how to spot a Nigerian prince email or a forex scam, you can easily be taken in by puppy dog eyes. Chances are, if you know how to avoid most scams, you don’t know what to do when scammed out of money, because you thought it would never happen to you.
If you’ve fallen victim to an online pet scam, contact Claim Justice. We are experts at getting money back from scammers.
One final note about this online scam: while coronavirus has made it really easy to perpetuate this scam, it’s unlikely to disappear alongside the virus. Scammers are likely to continue to offer imaginary pets for sale, using excuses like geographical distance, a busy schedule, or a family emergency to prevent you from being able to meet your puppy or kitten before paying for it. Be careful when adopting pets online!