In this week’s official Scambook news video, Kevan discusses pet fraud. He points out that cute puppies and adorable kittens are at the center of fraud schemes targeting animal lovers on classified ad websites like Craigslist and PetFinder. He reviews how con artists exploit people looking for a specific breed, usually a pedigree American Kennel Club breed such as a bull dog, by offering puppies for a ridiculously low price. The crooks claim to be selling the puppy because they’re moving. They also insist on shipping it – and they need you to wire money upfront to cover the costs. Kevan explains that the victims of this scheme never see their money again, and they never receive their pet because the dog (or cat) doesn’t exist. Finally, Kevan offers some tips to avoid these pet hoaxes, such as going to a local breeder in your area, researching the breeder, asking to see the puppy or kitten’s papers or just adopting a rescue from your local animal shelter.
These days, people shop online for everything – including four-legged furry friends. Often, people turn to the internet because they’re interested in getting a specific kind of dog or cat, whether it’s a popular breed from a recent hit movie or a breed with less pet dander to accommodate an allergic loved one. These purebred animals can be very expensive if you purchase one from an official, AKC certified breeder, often costing $1000 or more. This steep price tag sends many pet lovers to the internet, where it’s easy to go barking up the wrong tree and fall victim to fraud.
On Scambook, we’ve received hundreds of complaints about these schemes, with reported damages in the thousands. Here’s how it usually goes down. You look for your new pet on Craigslist, Petfinder or another classified ads website with a pet section. Sure enough, you find exactly what you’re looking for — the right breed, age and sex. Best of all, the puppy or kitten is being sold for a fraction of the official breeders’ price. Why? Well, the seller explains they have to sell the animal immediately because they’re moving, being deployed or the pet belonged to a recently deceased loved one and the seller doesn’t have time to look after it. In fact, the seller is so pressed for time that they can’t let you visit the animal in person before you buy it, or even pick it up from their home. They have to ship it to you.
While there are many legitimate pet shipping services, this fake pet seller will likely use one that you’ve never heard of. They’ll also insist that you pay the shipping cost upfront, via Western Union or Money Gram wire transfer. Sometimes, they also need you to pay for pet travel taxes, vaccinations or other fees – some of our members report that they were assured these fees would be refunded to them. Unfortunately, once our members wire the money, it’s gone for good. They arrive at the airport to pick up their new pal and there’s no purring kitty or tail-wagging dog to meet them. The pet they “bought” doesn’t exist.
If you’re thinking about buying a dog, cat or other pet on the internet, use extreme caution. We recommend the following safety tips:
1. Go local.
If possible, get your pet from a seller or breeder in your area. Visit the pet and inspect it before you hand over any cash. Legitimate breeders will be happy to let you play with your puppy or kitten first, and they’ll be helpful about answering any questions or concerns. In fact, many real breeders prefer to screen potential buyers to make sure their animals will go to a loving, responsible home. It’s a huge red flag if someone selling a pet won’t let you meet it first.
2. Research the seller or breeder.
If he or she claims to be certified by the American
Kennel Club or another breed organization, verify it by contacting the group. You can also ask about the seller or breeder’s reputation on online forums. And as always, look them up on Scambook.
3. Ask to see documents for the pet.
If the seller or breeder claims that the puppy or kitten has show papers, or that it’s had all its shots, get proof. If anything seems fishy, contact the breeder’s organization and get in touch with their veterinarian.
And finally, don’t forget about your local animal shelters! There are thousands of abandoned animals who need loving homes and are just waiting for the right person to adopt them. Mixed-breed animals are often healthier than purebreds, too. For more information, visit your local Humane Society or find an ASPCA chapter near you.
But until you find your purrfect pet, let Scambook be your watchdog! We’ll help you out when things get ruff.
Image sources: dailypuppy.com, photo-dictionary.com