Dog lovers are being urged to watch out for fraudsters after reports of fake online puppy traders tricking people out of their money during the lockdown.
In the last three weeks, the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which investigates fraud across the region, has received 10 reports of people being scammed by online puppy ads.
On each occasion the buyer transferred money to the seller, however when they went to collect the puppy, they found the address they’d been given was incorrect.
On one occasion it’s believed one address was given to nine different people, who arrived to collect their puppies only to find the homeowner had no knowledge of the advert.
Offenders are using the Covid-19 lockdown as a excuse to ask for money before the exchange is due to take place.ITV News
Not only are people handing over large sums of money for a pet they will never receive, they also have to deal with the emotional fall out and disappointment of the situation.
“We’d urge people to be cautious before buying anything online, but in particular animals such as puppies. If someone is requesting full payment before you have physically seen the puppy or if they’ve demanded a bank transfer rather than accepting PayPal or payment on collection, then we would advise you not to go ahead with the sale.”DETECTIVE SERGEANT KIERAN DOYLE
Dog Lovers Be Careful
Online scammers are always at it, wanting your money for no return (obviously). During the time of lockdown scammers are taking things to a new level. It seems that dog lovers especially fall for these tricksters plans to defraud your money.
The Coronavirus Lockdown has got more people looking for canine companionship. The Dogs Trust and the RSPCA reported an upsurge in people adopting dogs while they have time on their hands to spend with their new friends.
Online scammers have seen this and are upping their game knowing that many people will buy puppies for company during these uncertain times.
These rules are best practices not to get scammed online,
- Do your research – Before purchasing anything online, including pets, look up reviews for the site, or person, you are buying from. If you’re still not sure, ask a trusted friend or family member for their advice.
- Trust your instinct – If you can’t physically go to see the animal in person, ask for a video call. If the seller declines, challenge them on why. If you have any suspicions, don’t go ahead with the purchase.
- Choose your payment method wisely – If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, avoid paying by bank transfer as that offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or a payment service such as PayPal.
Puppy Mills Have Always Been a Cause For Concern
Many a dog lover has been scammed into buying puppies from puppy mills, then finishing up paying fortunes for a sick dog in vets bills, or even worse finishing up with puppy that dies. The internet is full of these scammers.
But a new law known as Lucy’s Law, will ban the sale of kittens and puppies from third parties from spring 2020, making buyers deal with breeders directly.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the new rules would give animals “the best possible start in life”.
The RSPCA said it was “absolutely thrilled” with the legislation – but stressed it required enforcement.
Any attempt to stop this unethical breeding and selling of animals is welcomed. Though even this will be circumvented by some of the unscrupulous sellers of badly bred or imported animals.
Never buy an animal that you haven’t seen in person. The vast majority of scams relating to buying a pet or anything else over the internet involve various different methods of trying to part the potential buyer from their money. Of course without ever handing over the pet supposedly offered for sale.
There are various seemingly credible reasons that dodgy sellers will use to try and part a buyer from their money. These are becoming increasingly complicated and devious, and can appear very genuine.
Always be on the lookout for the owner claiming to be out of the country, or having to sell a high value pet quickly and so accepting an amount well under the market rate if you pay or place a deposit on it immediately before viewing it.
Also, never fall for the claims of a seller who is asking for online payment to secure an unborn puppy or young puppy from a litter prior to viewing the litter or dam.
Remember that the most important tool you have in avoiding scams and pitfalls when buying a pet is your own instinct. If something feels wrong, it most likely is.
Even if you cannot put your finger on the source of the alarm bells that are ringing in your head, walk away and buy from a different seller, or breeder.
Unscrupulous people will go to quite some lengths to try to con unsuspecting people out of their money, and you may not always be able to identify what the endgame or the catch is when something feels amiss.
So to all you dog lovers out there if you are in the market for a new puppy, the watchword is caution. Be on your guard at all times and avoid getting scammed.
Have you been scammed? comment below to help people not to make the mistakes you did.