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The Online Pet Scam

An online pet scam is a fraudulent scheme where scammers create fake listings for pets, often at attractive prices, to lure unsuspecting buyers into making payments for pets that don't actually exist. These scams typically take place on online classified ads platforms, social media, or fake websites pretending to be legitimate pet sellers.

Here is a news article detailing how a resident in Innisfil, Ontario fell victim to an online pet scam. The woman fell victim to deception and sent multiple payments, but she ultimately did not receive the promised puppy. This serves as a reminder of the importance of being cautious and vigilant when dealing with online pet transactions to avoid falling victim to scams.

What are some warning signs to look out for?
  • Scammers post advertisements for popular and desirable pet breeds at prices that are too good to be true. These ads are usually accompanied with adorable pictures and appealing descriptions.

  • Scammers may use stolen images from legitimate breeders or pet owners to make their listings seem more authentic. Be sure to check if the animal’s photo or listing appear on multiple websites.

  • Sketchy payment – The seller will usually request for payment via non-secure methods. These include wire transfers, gift cards, or venmo which makes it difficult for victims to recover their funds if they realize that they have been scammed.

  • The seller shows a preference for communicating via email rather than phone calls. A trustworthy seller will consistently engage in communication through phone calls or video chats (if not available in person) before selling a pet to you.

  • The seller strongly insists on shipping the animal instead of offering it in person.

Tips to avoid falling victim to an online pet scam:
  • Thoroughly research the seller and the pet. Look for reviews or feedback from previous buyers and avoid sellers who don't provide any credible information about themselves or the pet.

  • Perform a reverse-image search on pictures of the animal that you are considering buying and also, copy and paste the text from a sales site or ad into a search engine. If you discover identical images or text on multiple sites, it is likely that you are dealing with a scammer.

  • Request a live video call with the seller to see the pet in real-time. If the seller refuses or makes excuses, it's a warning sign.

  • If possible, meet the seller in person to see the pet and its living conditions before making any payment.

  • Ask for documentation such as health records, vaccination certificates, and registration papers for the pet.

  • Stick to reputable websites or platforms that have measures in place to verify sellers and protect buyers from scams.

  • Be Wary of Low Prices: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of heavily discounted prices on high-demand pets.

  • Avoid making payments through untraceable methods such as wire transfers or cryptocurrency. Use secure and trackable payment options, such as PayPal or credit cards.

If you are a victim of online pet scam:

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