Beware of Online Pet Scams

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Online Puppy seems too Good to be True? Well, It Just Might Be

Summertime is the busy season for PenderAIR and for pet shipping. Unfortunately, it is also the busy season for criminals running online pet scams. Our very own Pet Travel Coordinators are contacted every spring and summer by individuals desperate to locate the puppy they have already paid for, but have never received. We then have the sad task of having to give these folks the heartbreaking news that the puppy they have been excitedly preparing to welcome into their family doesn’t exist, and they have been the victims of a scam.

The Scam:

You find an adorable purebred puppy online at an amazing price or that is in desperate need of a loving home. All you need to do is pay to have him shipped to you.  Once you pay to purchase or ship your new best friend there are problems that require you to send more money. And if you don’t do this quickly enough the person you are dealing with threatens you with legal action for animal abandonment, which they’ll say could result in heavy fines or even jail time. And at the end of it all, your new best friend never makes it to you because they never existed in the first place. This is just one common scenario but many such similar stories are told countless times over by pet scam artists. If it sounds too good to be true, it just might be!

Red Flags to Watch For:

  • Prices that are too good to be true
  • The advertisement is through a free website, or you are contacting a free email address
  • The advertisement/website uses poor spelling and/or grammar
  • Payment is required in advance, often via Western Union or MoneyGram, or with gift cards
  • They claim they will ship the pet within 24 hours of receiving your payment (this is impossible!)
  • They claim they can ship the pet from an international location for only $250-$350 (this is also impossible!)

Resources available to you:

  • The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) has a list of over 1000 known emails, websites, names and telephone numbers that have been reported as pet scams. This list is available at www.IPATA.org
  • Scam Warners http://www.scamwarners.com

If you have already become a victim of an online pet scam:

  • Report it to local law enforcement
  • File a report with the Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
  • If you used Western Union or MoneyGram report it to a manager at the location you used.
  • Contact the publication where you found the ad and let them know this advertiser is a scammer. Ask to have the ad removed and to have the individual blacklisted.

This is a horrible and heartbreaking situation to find oneself in, but it is happening to more and more innocent people every day. Be extremely careful when looking to purchase a puppy online, and use this article to help you identify a scam when you see one!

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