Scam artists are hiding online pretending to sell domestic pets, but instead are taking the consumer’s money without turning over a new fluffy friend. Often, these ads are found on free buy-and-sell websites and use especially endearing photos of the animal they have no intention of sending, or may not even own, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
“Con artists are scouring the internet looking for new ways to get into our wallets,” Rutledge said. “Families considering adding a new pet have a lot to think about, especially whether having this new pet is the right decision for them. They should not have to also worry if the seller is trying to scam them.”
Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips to avoid falling victim to a scammer selling a pet that doesn’t exist:
• Visit in person the breeder or rescue group offering the pet. Responsible individuals and organizations will allow potential customers to tour their facility.
• Search the user’s profile for warning signs that it may be a scam. Fake breeder websites can often look real because they steal content from legitimate rescue sites. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet.
• Arrange to pick up the animal from a kennel instead of meeting the breeder at a potentially unsafe location. Do not rely on the breeder to ship the animal, and never pay for shipping.
• Check the organization’s references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the breeder’s veterinarian.
• Pay for the puppy with a check or credit card. If a breeder pressures for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment, it is probably a scam.