San Diego

Pandemic, Holiday Season Create Perfect Storm for Shoppers Caught Up in Pet Scams

Pet scams make up 24% of all online scams reported to the Better Business Bureau, according to a BBB report

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You've probably noticed with more families home these days, a lot of people have decided to get a new dog or pet. Some are even calling their new additions their "pandemic puppies."

The good thing is a lot of animals are getting new, loving homes. The bad thing?

The increase in demand creates a larger market for scammers, especially around the holidays, as the Better Business Bureau reports.

Darlene White with the San Diego Animal Support Foundation said it’s happening more and more.

“Online pet scamming has been around since I started in this business 20 some odd years ago,” said White. “Whenever a holiday is approaching, you see people, parents especially, start to get desperate for puppies and kittens and they’re willing to give that money to anybody to get that puppy and kitten.”

Public health orders have prevented the non-profit from organizing adoption events for local rescues and shelters during the pandemic, but it’s not hard to find adorable puppies for sale on Craigslist or social media.

“And unfortunately there are plenty of scammers out there waiting that know people are desperate to get those animals and are not going to go through the proper channels,” said White.

Pet scams now make up 24% of all online scams reported to the Better Business Bureau, according to a BBB report. It also stated that 70% of those targeted for a pet scam end up losing money.

“Legitimate rescue groups are not going to ask for money up front before they’ve even met you, or have come to your house to do a home check or interviewed you,” said White.

The BBB also reported that victims were often told they need to send money for special climate-controlled crates, insurance and even a non-existent COVID-19 vaccine.

“Or if they are in fact selling pets, those pets may not have been vetted. They may not have had their proper vaccinations. You may get them and they may be sick,” said White.

Avoid falling for a scam by following these tips from the BBB:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person.
  • Avoid wiring money, or using a cash app or gift card.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting.
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