Brits warned to watch out for fake puppy ads online


During the lockdown demand for pets exploded, but so did the number of scams in circulation.

Due to lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic, more people than ever are drawn to welcoming a pet into their home.

But as a result, the crooks lure people with cute animal pictures online, in order to steal their money without delivering it.

According to Action Fraud, £ 2.6million was lost to future owners in FY 2020/21, after giving money to crooks never to receive the animal they wanted.

Pets are offered online by scammers (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Several potential owners have said they posted deposits for the animals advertised online, which turned out to be scams.

The organization, which released the figures, says the total is an increase of more than 20 percent from the previous year.

Victims have reported being scammed on social media, online marketplaces and specific pet sales platforms, with many fooled by false promises of dogs and puppies or cats and kittens .

Jim Winters, Fraud Manager at Barclays, said: “During the lockdown we saw a particular increase in pet scams, where people have prepaid for a pet they have. seen online or from which they have received images, only to discover the animal. does not exist.

Animals are used as bait by fraudsters (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
Animals are used as bait by fraudsters (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

“The problem with these types of scams is that when people buy or invest in something that they really want, like a pet, the suspicions they may have are often overlooked and they work against the grain. their best judgment, which leaves them open to being. duped, ”she continues.

“Our advice is to stop and think before you make a purchase, always ask a friend or relative for a second opinion, and never assume the seller is who you think they are.

“Always make sure you do additional research and read reviews to make sure the person, company or website you are buying from is genuine,” he adds. “If you have any concerns, don’t give out any personal or payment details, or have to send money, and remember – if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. . “

Potential owners are warned to stay in the know (Credit: Unsplash)
Potential owners are warned to stay in the know (Credit: Unsplash)

Action Fraud also offered some tips to avoid getting caught in scams:

Look for reviews on the website or the person you’re buying from. If you are purchasing an item from an online marketplace, review the seller’s comment history before making the purchase.

If you can’t see the animal in person, request a video call. If you are buying a young animal, make sure you can see the mother and the rest of the litter. Responsible sellers will understand why you want to see the animal in person. If the seller refuses, ask them why. If you have any suspicions, don’t pay any money.

Credit card or payment services such as PayPal might give you a better chance of getting your money back from fraud. Action Fraud also advises people to follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which says to think carefully before parting with money or personal information (

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