During the coronavirus quarantine, many people have felt lonely since we have had to quarantine in our homes away from many of our friends and family members. This is why many people have started to adopt pets in order to make some of the lonely feelings go away. However, many animal shelters and pet shops have sold out of their pets due to the spike in pet sales during this time. This has caused many people to try and look for a pet online, but scammers know this and have also created fake pet sales websites. This has caused many people to become heartbroken as they become victims of pet scams.
Pet Scams Have Risen Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
According to the BBB, there have been around 4,000 reports of pet scams in the year 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In April 2020 during the first full month of the coronavirus, there were more reports about fake pet websites than the first three months of 2020 combined.
This has continued into the holiday season of 2020, where people were trying to gift pets to their loved ones for the holidays, but instead, they were left heartbroken and disappointed. There were 337 reports of pet scams during the holiday season of 2020, compared to only 77 reports of pet scams in 2019.
How Pet Scams Work
Scammers send phishing emails promoting fake pet store websites that look legitimate in hopes that they can steal money from their potential victims. These websites include cute photos of puppies and kittens, as well as cool-looking exotic animals, horses, and birds. These photos are enough to make their victims fall in love with the animal behind the screen, as they become desperate to get to meet the animal in person.
However, scammers are clever and tell their victims they can’t meet their animal friend in person unless they pay for the animal, due to the coronavirus. They ask their victims to wire them thousands upon thousands of dollars so that they can meet their furry friend, and the victim complies excited to meet their new animal friend.
The scammer asks for more money due to extra shipping fees, convenience fees, cleaning fees, and any other fee they can come up with as an excuse. The victim wires them more and more money, only to realize that they are giving money to a scammer and will never meet their new pet.
How to Avoid Pet Scams
- If the price is too good to be true for a specific breed of an animal, then it’s probably a scam.
- Research the website or person selling the animal before making a purchase on that animal.
- If the seller keeps asking you to pay fees, this is also a red flag that this is a scam.
- If the email or listing has poor spelling or grammar, a scammer probably wrote it.
- If the listing asks for a wire transfer, gift card, or prepaid debit card to pay for the pet, it’s a scam.
- Reverse image search the animal you want to buy to make sure that the image of the pet is original.
- Adopt from local shelters or well-known sellers if you can to make sure that the pet you are purchasing is legit.
- Don’t give money to anyone for a pet without meeting the animal and seller in person.
- Don’t go on websites that are not as well-known to purchase your pet.
- If the seller only communicates through email or text and won’t call you, this is another sign of a scam.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you’ve been a victim of pet scams.