(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

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
RDN Transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

The intersection at Moilliet Street and Despard Avenue where a 12-year-old boy was struck by an oncoming vehicle early November while crossing at a marked crosswalk. (Mandy Moraes photo)
City staff members, school district officials to discuss high-traffic Parksville intersection

Young boy suffered broken leg after being hit in Despard/Moilliet crossing

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Another staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Nanaimo care home

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence employee is isolating, says Island Health

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Most Read