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Be on the lookout! Pet scams are on the rise

Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 7:46 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - If you’re looking to grow your family this summer with a furry friend –be on the lookout.

New reports show pet scams are on the rise and scammers are using several tactics to rope in victims.

However, there are some tips on how to look past deceiving puppy eyes.

Whether you’re a dog or cat person--- scammers will not hesitate to take advantage of you.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports pet scams skyrocketed during the pandemic—so much that a 25% increase in pet scams was reported in 2020.

Unfortunately, this fraud trend continues.

Jason Meza with the BBB says in south Texas, multiple victims who have lost money attempting to buy a pet online come forward every week.

“It’s happening right here in our backyard, and it’s happening multiple times in a week from $600 to $800 an instant. We’ve seen up to $4,000 to $5000 lost trying to buy a pet that is in high demand,” he told us.

A scammer’s most effective tool is the internet.

Law enforcement and consumer advocates say a person searching online for a pet is “extremely likely” to encounter a scam listing or website.

Meza says around 80% of sponsored pet ads may be fake.

“Unfortunately people are offering money online. They think a breeder is legit, they think the person has the animal with them, but they don’t. In fact, these are just copied images from somebody who really has the pet. They are scam websites and people are getting scammed everyday.”

Meza says be wary if you do decide to shop for a pet online.

*Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Always visit a pet or the breeder in person. Consider a video call with the seller so you can see the actual pet for sale.

*Also cross check the information online. Do an extra internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering, like an image search. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you are more than likely dealing with a scam

*Research breeds. If someone is advertising a purebred dog at a deeply discounted price, you more than likely are dealing with a fraudulent offer.

*Never pay with cash apps or gift cards.

“So they are pulling on those heartstrings and people are willing to pay. As long as you continue to pay the scam continues until you realize the pet never arrived,” Meza said.

He also says these crimes are typically hard to prosecute since many of these criminal rings operate outside the United States.

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