(Needpix.com)

(Needpix.com)

Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

Are you thinking of buying a puppy to keep yourself company as much of Canada and the United States enter a second phase of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions?

Make sure the pup you’re getting is real, the Better Business Bureau warns, as fraudsters are projected to scam more than $3 million from would-be pet buyers in Canada and across the U.S. this year. While puppies are the most popular, the bureau warns that kittens and cats are also popular targets.

According to the bureau, the amount of money lost to pet scams so far this year is already approaching double what it did in 2019, with more than $2.8 million lost so far, compared to just over $1 million last year.

The number of pet scams has also doubled, with 3,969 reports to the bureau in 2020 so far, compared to 1,870 for all of last year.

According to the bureau, the pandemic heavily contributed to the number of pet scams, with more reported in April than in the first three months of the year. That increase is continuing as people head into the holiday months with 77 more scams reported this November than the same month last year.

“COVID-19 has made for a long and uncertain year, and a ‘quarantine puppy’ or other pet has proven to be a comfort for many people, but it also has created fertile ground for fraudsters,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO.

“People currently shopping for pets online are prime targets for fraudsters trolling the internet looking for want-to-be pet owners. Knowing the red flags associated with this scam can help consumers avoid heartache and losing their money.”

The bureau said that mobile payment apps like Zelle and CashApp (both U.S.-only) were frequently used in 2020, while in 2017 Western Union and MoneyGram wire transfers were more popular.

“A Wichita, Kansas, man reported to BBB in April 2020 that he used Zelle to pay $940 for a French bulldog puppy from scammers who used a bogus, but legitimate looking, website to handle shipping for the puppy that never arrived,” the bureau stated.

The pandemic has added an extra layers, with many scammers telling prospective buyers that they cannot meet up or asking for extra cash for special climate-controlled crates, insurance and a (non-existent) COVID-19 vaccine.

To avoid getting scammed, the bureau recommends seeing the pet in person, or using a video call to see the animal before buying, doing a reverse image search and do research about a realistic price for the pet.

READ MORE: Oak Bay resident bilked $3,300 in puppy scam


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

DogsfraudpuppiesScams

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This woman is one of two people the Agassiz RCMP are asking for assistance in identifying after a string of alleged thefts in Popkum. (Agassiz RCMP)
Agassiz RCMP ask for help to identify suspects in Popkum thefts

Images of the two suspects were captured on surveillance footage between Jan. 10 and 16

Only students who are attending in-person classes will be asked to take the Foundation Skills Assessment this year in the Fraser Cascade School District. (Unsplash)
Foundation Skills Assessment only for in-person learners: SD78

The provincial assessment will take place between Feb. 15 and March 12 for grades 4 and 7

Abbotsford’s Tradex has been transformed into a volleyball and basketball facility with Open Court. (Instagram photo)
Abbotsford’s Tradex transforms into sports facility

Open Court program hosting volleyball and basketball teams for practices and possibly games

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read