Isolated people during the COVID-19 pandemic are being targeted by scammers for online puppy scams. COVID-19 Scams have been making news since March 2020 and it seems like there is no end to what fraudsters can come up with to take advantage of other people. The Better Business Review over Mainland British Columbia is warning Canadians of the recent spike in the number of online puppy scam reports.
The warning was issued by Better Business Bureau after they’ve received increased reports from consumer assistance organizations across the country. The reports say that more fraudulent pet websites were discovered in April 2020 compared to the total from the entire first quarter of the year.
BBB Mainland B.C. spokeswoman Karla Laird says that scammers are exploiting would-be-pet-owner’s desires of finding a puppy to help them cope during these trying times. She further shared that scam victims from Victoria to Toronto and Halifax have been reporting getting duped by fraudsters while trying to buy a puppy online.
In response to the above, the Better Business Bureau shared tips on how to avoid getting victimized by online puppy scams. They are as follows:
- Do not buy a pet without seeing the pet in person
- Do not buy a pet from non-established sellers
- Avoid sending money prior to seeing the pet in person
- Avoid payment methods such as gift cards, Moneygram, or Western Union as they are commonly used by fraudsters who do not want to be traced
Sophisticated Pet Scams Online
The Bureau found out in an earlier study that those who engage in online puppy scams and other successful scams rely on sophisticated advertisements to lure unsuspecting consumers. The advertisements make it seem that there is a legitimate business behind the ads, as the ads are sponsored content and usually lead to a seemingly well-crafted website. Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the sponsored ads that are about pets are fraudulent, according to the BBB.
How to Spot Online Pet Scams
An example of a fake pet ad and website is a website targeting people who wants to buy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The website claims to be from Tulsa, Oklahoma and may seem legitimate at first glance, until one takes a deeper look. Legitimate sites will have an online history or footprint, with numerous links online and via social media as well as social media accounts that go back months if not years. If a website has only been active between February to May 2020, then it could be one of the fake websites specifically created to scam people while COVID-19 is around.
It is best to do a lot of research on an intended breed before adopting a dog, including pricing as well as specific breed illnesses. If a website is trying to sell a puppy too cheap or claims a 100% guarantee of no health issues; and interested to sell to whomever shows an interest, then the motives behind the sale may be less than ideal. Experts suggest looking up dogs in shelters as the pandemic caused quite a lot of healthy and purebred dogs to be surrendered. Such an adoption will be legitimate, there is no possibility of being scammed, and you get to meet your new dog in person.
Do you know someone who may have been a victim or was targeted for an online puppy scam? Our private investigation services can help uncover truths and verify if a website is legitimate or not. Contact us today and we’ll do our best to get our private investigators to work on your concern as soon as possible.