Scammers now using pet purchases to steal from unsuspecting buyers
A new scam making the rounds involves people selling pets online, taking the buyer’s money, then never sending the animal (if, indeed, there ever was one to begin with), according to RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew.
“Castlegar RCMP would like to remind people to be extremely diligent when making purchases online … the varying scams are endless, and the local detachment has seen another one unfold this week involving the sale of a puppy,” Mathew explained. “The puppy was found in an ad on Kijiji, and to be paid for via Western Union money transfer to Minnesota, then shipped to Canada. This was paid.
“The puppy didn’t arrive, and the buyer was then told there would be a $1,200 ‘insurance’ fee to be paid to ensure the dog could get across the border and be insured. Again, the puppy didn’t arrive.
“Next, the buyer was told that the puppy had been taken into quarantine on the US side of the border, and another $1,900 would be needed to get the puppy out. Thankfully, at this point, the buyer felt something was wrong and called police.”
Mathew offered a list of things of which to be aware and diligent:
1) Do NOT send money for something via a non-secure method before you get the product. Many times, scammers want you to pay through Western Union. You may think you are paying someone in Minnesota, but your payment is being picked up in a totally different country. If a seller insists you pay by Western Union transfer before they send the product (or animal), you’d be better off not buying it. There have been losses by people e-transferring money for products as well. Using a trackable, reputable payment method like Paypal, or a credit card is advised, especially when interacting with an unfamiliar person or company.
2) Do your own, in-depth research of any company, breeder, or other product sellers before you buy. Google the company, putting ‘scam’ after their name in the search bar, then read reviews, articles, anything to see if they are reputable. If you go to “contact us”, and there is only an e mail address, and the seller will only communicate through e mail, that could be a red flag. A reputable breeder is going to let you talk to them. If you are told the price of something ( ie a purebred puppy) is too good to be true, it probably is! Many of these scammers will draw people in with the allure of a great sale, then as in this case, they will keep your money, and demand more and more, all the while promising you that the puppy is on her way to you, and the dog never arrives. Scammers will steal cute pictures of a real breeder’s puppy and put it up ‘for sale’ on their own various web site, Craig’s List, Kijiji, Facebook etc etc and potentially “sell” this same puppy to many people, all the while never actually even having the dog.
Even googling the “pet delivery” service that will be ensuring your puppy gets to you will bring up lots of fraudulent companies advertising as pet shippers.
This is one of many scams circulating. Please be extremely diligent when purchasing items on line, especially when you are asked to pay via Western union money transfer.