If you are looking for a pet to add to your family, be on the lookout for scams.
As more consumers turn to the internet to find a furry friend, more dishonest folks are looking to make a quick buck by taking advantage of those who they believe to be easy prey – including a Coastal Bend resident who was recently scammed out of more than $1,000.
The Better Business Bureau reports getting over 1,000 reports from across the state last year alone regarding this type of fraud.
In May, a local woman lost money to someone online she thought was a legitimate kitten breeder. As it turned out, the seller was a scammer, the kitten was a fake and the money is gone.
The scam typically works this way:
You are looking online, searching for a specific breed, and you come across a cute picture of a puppy or kitten. Once you click on the link or picture, you are then taken to a site designed to steal your money.
As you engage with the seller, they might offer the animal at a low price, plus shipping charges. You are then asked to wire the money. Once payment is made, you may be contacted that the animal is en route and requires additional fees, such as medical insurance, a new crate or food.
The scam continues as long as you keep paying.
According to the BBB, you can avoid being robbed this way by remembering some simple advice:
Do not buy a pet without seeing it in person. Always visit the pet and facility in person. Consider adoption from a rescue or animal shelter.
Cross check the information online. Do an extra internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering — an image search. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you are more than likely dealing with a scam. You also can do a search on the text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
Research breeds. Be sure to research the breed you are interested in, and if someone is advertising a purebred dog at a deeply discounted price, you are more than likely dealing with a fraudulent offer.
Never wire money. Never pay a stranger through money order, Western Union or Moneygram. Use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.
What should you do if you become a victim?
The BBB did an in-depth investigation about this recently, and you can read the report at www.bbb.org/puppyscam.