Over the festive season you may want to surprise your loved ones with the pet they have always wished for. Beware of the many pet scams you can come across online. Pet scammers seem to have changed direction these past years. They don’t only pretend to sell you a pedigree pet at an amazing price anymore, they will now offer you a pet free of charge, for which all you need to do is pay the transport costs. Note this could be any animal from a kitten to a horse.
How to check if you are being scammed:
Check the email & the email address:
The old adage comes to mind, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. Scam emails are full of various different fonts and spelling mistakes. They copy real company logos and text, also scammers will always use a free email address, with the name of a real pet transport company, for example; email@example.com
Check the phone number
Scammers will not be where they state they are. They may not give you their telephone number at first. If ever they do, always check the country code of the number given. Note +237 is Cameroon, where unfortunately a lot of internet frauds take place. http://countrycode.org/
Check the image
You can receive pictures of the pet in question which will make your heart melt, especially if the scammers say that they can’t keep the pet anymore and you would be saving the pet by assuring the transport costs. In a pet scam the animal doesn’t exist, the images are merely pictures taken from other legitimate websites. Google the breed of the pet and search the images to see if you can find the same image.
Be aware of how you are asked to send payment
Refuse to send any money to your contact when it cannot be traced, ie. Western Union; Pay Cards, etc. Once payment has left, there is no way of following it. Always ask for an invoice before any payment is made and make sure the invoice has the usual necessary information to be able to trace the company, ie. Name, address, business registration, detail of invoice and total amount.
Check the company
Once you have it, Google the pet shipper’s name. You may come across a real pet shipping company, who you can ask to confirm that the email address you have or the emails you are receiving are from their company.
Overall be cautious online and always prefer to adopt a pet from your local pet rescue shelter (www.spa.asso.fr); or buy from a reputable breeder.