Scammers, be it online or offline often find it easier to prowl on victims when the heart is involved. Previously I talked about online dating scams, showing you how even the most responsible and successful of folks can fall prey to their manipulations.
Whether you’ve lost a pet or thinking of adopting a furry friend to add to the family circle, it can turn out to be a pretty distressing and emotional situation when you realize that you have been a victim of an insidious pet scam.
I will discuss some of the common pet scams doing the rounds. Trust me, Anyone Anywhere can be a victim. Then I will show you some ways on how to avoid online pet scams when adopting a new friend or even looking for your lost companion.
It’s always a good thing to be aware of what these culprits are up to so that you can be proactive and one step ahead.
Ready! Great, let us start.
Types of Online Pet Scams
SCAM 1 : Lost Pet Scam
Naturally, when you have lost your pet or it goes astray, you will be emotionally disheartened and will want to pursue any means to get your ‘loved one’ back.
Folks often turn to the online media, posting their ads in the hope of someone finding their pets and returning them back home.
Often what scammers do, is they scan these posts and reply with a story claiming to have found your lost pet.
They may further go on to state that the pet is well cared for, and at a cost of a small shipping fee, they will send the pet over and you all get to live happily ever after.
It would be a nice thing if these stories all had happy endings, would you not agree?
In fact, some of the stories that you may hear, may be outrageous, to say the least, like this one below. One other thing to always keep an eye open for, is the very poor grammar. That’s a dead giveaway!
PET SCAM Nr 2: Delivery of Your New pet
Similar to the lost case scenario. What happens here, using Facebook, scammers use Craigslist or their own free websites to advertise pets that don’t exist. They often request shipping costs from the interested buyer to ensure the delivery of the new pet.
To show they are ‘so-called,’ legit, they may request your personal particulars. Things like your physical address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
They often use the UK redirect numbers which actually forwards all calls to their base in Cameroon, Africa.
PET SCAM NR 3: Fake Animal Rescue Scams
There are puppy mills out there that disguise themselves as animal rescue organizations. Some of them actually paint themselves as ‘doing charitable work,’ and even ‘accept donations.’
Puppy Mills are known for their notorious breeders who operate by breeding dogs ‘factory-style’. These dogs are subjected to conditions such as poor nourishment, are cramped in tiny cages or even left to survive in the cages alongside some dead pups as well. The purpose of these factories is to sell them to pet shops, who in turn sell them to the public.
Using the internet, breeders are able to set up their operations under the guise of pet adoption sites claiming to have saved these animals.
Animal welfare experts believe that around two-thirds of the dogs that are sold online, come from puppy mills.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when deciding to buy a puppy from an online site
- Go to the Physical Location – Inspect the environment and the conditions under which the animal is kept. Don’t believe beautiful photos. They could be stock photos taken from photo sites.
- Don’t Fall For FACE-VALUE – like catchy advertisements or marketing
- Do your Research – on the Rescue Organization in question.
PET SCAM Nr 4: Expensive Breed at Discounted Price
Any idea of what the price of a thoroughbred Bulldog is ?
I’m sure you are curious to know. Here is the answer.
English Bulldogs : around $1500 – $4000
So, if you see an ad stating that one of these guys are going at half the price, then your warning bells should be going off.
You may be lead into thinking that you’ve scored a great deal. It may seem that way online, but insist for more than just one photo of the animal and request for all of the necessary documentation.
Check its verification and authenticity with the relevant pet agency authorities and make sure all is in order before you proceed with the transaction.
PET SCAM NR 5: Medical Expense Taken Care off
This may not necessarily be an online scam, but I thought that its relevant to our discussion and included it here.
Very similar to the lost pet scams.
After you have placed your advertisement for your dear lost dog or cat, you get a call from a trucker or driver, whose job is principally of a travelling nature.
This is how the story goes….
He just so happened to have come across your injured animal laying by the roadside.
Out of his sincere good nature, he had taken the time to get your pet to a vet for the necessary medical assistance.
Unfortunately, he will NOT be heading back to your area and kindly requests for you to settle the outstanding vet bill.
The pet will be sent with another driver or employer who will pass the owner’s hometown.
I am sure you can guess how all this turns out.
NO MONEY! NO PET!
How to Avoid Online Pet scams
Here are some tips to take note of to prevent you from being conned by these scams.
- Ensure that your pet is tagged and licensed – in the event of it being lost or stolen.
- Health Certification and Special Insurance– Before you even think of paying the scammer, check with the local laws, if you really need this sort of documentation for the transport of animals.
- Arrange a meeting – to personally see the puppy or its parents. If this can’t happen, I would strongly consider walking away.
- Be Careful of Sad Tales – “I am in a difficult situation at the moment, I just want the pet to go to good home.”
- Don’t Let scammers prey on your Emotions– especially if they want the pet to be shipped in 24hours. This is not true as important licences and health certificates need to be cleared first and this takes time.
- Be vigilant of scammers using legitimate pet shipper’s names in their e-mail. If they claim to be a member of IPATA(pet shipping experts), confirm their company name with the IPATA admin department.
- Scammers can also copy members logo and use content and testimonials from other legitimate sites. Watch out for this!
- DO NOT WIRE ANY MONEY or DO ANY WESTERN UNION OR MONEYGRAM transactions, until everything is 100% legit.
At the end of the day, these pets can’t talk to us to tell us what is truly happening and its our responsibility to take care of them and ensure their safety. At the same time, we need to take cognizance when something is wrong and act accordingly to prevent ourselves from becoming a victim.
I hope that these tips have helped in giving you a better idea on how to avoid online pet scams, when adopting a friend or even when you’re searching for your lost four-legged family member.
Learn more about Online Scams by reading these articles
⇒Common Facebook Scams⇐
⇒How to Protect yourself against Online Dating Scams⇐
⇒How to Spot Fake Tech Support Scams⇐
Have you been a victim of an online pet scam recently or perhaps you know of anyone who has? Would love to hear your story.
Thank you for joining me today.
As always, do be careful and stay safe.