The isolation of life during the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many Americans to consider owning pets for companionship.
If you are one of them, beware: Fraudsters are aware of this motive and seek to exploit it.
according to Surveyed by Ameritrade, 33% of Americans have adopted or nursed pets in response to the pandemic, or are considering it. For most people, it’s a great idea. The Ameritrade survey found that 89% of US pet owners say their pets have brought them relief during the pandemic, and 82% say they feel less lonely because of their pets.
Send money to animals that don’t exist
However, at the same time, fraudulent schemes to extract money from victims seeking animal companionship have escalated sharply.
Fraud.org, A project of the National Consumer Association, says pet adoption scams are up 42% from last year.
Here is how it works:
Fraudsters place a great picture of a dog or cat on a classifieds website like Craigslist. They may also be listed as “free” pets. When a victim responds and sends money to buy the animal or pay for the freight, the fraudster tells them that there are some additional costs, such as a “well-ventilated shipping box” or “insurance.”
The fraudster keeps asking for more money for more purposes until the buyer surrenders – now hundreds or even thousands of dollars -. In fact, the animal image was just an image that the fraudster pulled from the Internet.
One of the latest tricks, In Fargo, North Dakota, includes a cat site. One victim told police she lost more than $ 2,000 in adoption fees, presumed vaccination fees, shipping, and permits.
in a Little Rock, ArkansasBetter Business says pet scams have tripled this year. One of the new victims there said he lost $ 2,500 after responding to a website called Angelic Golden Retrievers.
Unfortunately, the scammers are adept at their sinister craft. Therefore, once the victim sends them the money, they may never get it back.
Words for the wise
If you are one of the many Americans considering owning a pet to alleviate loneliness, here are some things that Fraud.org suggests you should consider:
- Never send money to buy a pet until you have seen the animal in person.
- Beware of requests for payment via wire transfer (Western Union or MoneyGram) or prepaid debit cards. Sending money these ways is the same as sending money.
- Consider adopting from a local shelter rather than a private seller.
- Beware of “free” pet offers. Fraudsters know this is a good way to lure victims into sending money for shipping and other costs for pets that aren’t there.
Although it can be difficult to get your money back if you get scammed, you should still file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Department of the Attorney General’s office in your state. You can also report to Fraud.org, the Better Business Bureau, and the Human Society of the United States.