Pet Scams on the Rise Due to COVID-19

Pet Scams on the Rise Due to COVID-19

If scammers put in as much effort to create a legitimate business as they do to take advantage of people, they could probably be millionaires. Whenever you see changes happening at a societal level, those con artists come out of the woodwork to prey on those circumstances. 

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many families found themselves spending more time at home than usual. One of the ways that they coped with those circumstances was to attempt to adopt a pet. 

That increase in demand created more fake ad listings for puppies, kittens, and other animals. The interested party would contact the information provided, pay a “deposit,” and never get the animal in return. 

Some People Are Out Thousands of Dollars

Although pet-related scams have been around for a while, the complaints to the Better Business Bureau about this problem tripled during the first month of the pandemic.

We want to think that our fellow humans would be honest with us about becoming a pet parent. The vulnerability offered during that moment also becomes a place where someone can take advantage of us in a time of need.

The desire to avoid loneliness and separation during quarantine and isolation reduces the logical thinking patterns that help us avoid scams. Knowing this fact allows scammers to say the right words so that you hand over the money without thinking. 

You might not think of a pet as property, but that is how animals get classified legally in most jurisdictions. That makes them a product, which means you don’t need to pay a deposit to buy your companion. 

How to Avoid Online Pet Scams

Pet scams are continuing to happen even though we already know of their existence. It only takes one moment of letting down your guard to become a victim of this crime.

If you follow these rules before sending money to a potential pet provider, you can hopefully avoid many of the issues happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Don’t send money until you meet the pet.

Try to meet the pet in person before offering any money. Although this step won’t eliminate your risk, it’ll give you an identity to start pursuing if the transaction doesn’t happen as expected. If you cannot meet physically, a virtual meeting on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or another provider is usually a suitable substitute.

2. Get references.

If you work with people that your family or friends have already used to secure their pets, it’s less likely that you’ll get scammed out of your money.

3. Adopt from a shelter.

Instead of working with an unknown online commodity, consider speaking with your local animal shelter about adopting a pet. You’ll get to visit the pets frequently, and it isn’t unusual for the facility to let you come home with them on the same day.

4. Reach out to a local vet.

Local veterinarians might have information about the reputable breeders in your region if you’re looking for a specific pet. It helps to speak with trusted offices to get another opinion.

If you suspect that you’ve been scammed, file a police report locally and put in a complaint if it was a business trying to take advantage of you. 

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