Fraud alert over ‘fake’ puppies and kittens for sale
A national fraud agency is warning animal lovers after a spate of fake pets for sale online.
Action Fraud has received a rise in the reporting of pets, and in particular puppies and kittens, being advertised for sale via popular online auction websites.
Fraudsters are placing adverts online using stolen photos of pets claiming they are currently held abroad or somewhere less accessible within the UK.
Once a sale is agreed and payment made, usually by money transfer or bank transfer, the pet does not materialise. The fraudsters will usually ask for further advanced payments to cover courier charges, shipping fees or vet bills.
Even if further payments are made, the pet will still not materialise as it is likely the pet does not exist.
Auction Fraud have issues the following guidelines for prospective new pet owners:
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- Be cautious if the seller initially requests payment via one method, but later claims that due to ‘issues with their account’ they will need to take the payment via an alternative method such as a bank transfer.
- Consider conducting research on other information provided by the seller, for example a mobile phone number or email address used by the seller could alert you to any negative information associated with the number/email address online.
- Request details of the courier company being used and consider researching it.
- Agree a suitable time to meet face to face to agree the purchase and collect the pet. If the seller is reluctant to meet it could be an indication the pet does not exist.
- A genuine seller should be keen to ensure the pet is going to a caring and loving new home. If the seller does not express any interest in you and the pet’s new home, be wary.
- If you think the purchase price is too good to be true it probably is, especially if the pet is advertised as a pure-breed.
- Do not be afraid to request copies of the pet’s inoculation history, breed paperwork and certification prior to agreeing a sale. If the seller is reluctant or unable to provide this information it could be an indication that either the pet does not exist or has been illegally bred e.g. it originates from a ‘puppy farm’.
- When thinking of buying a pet, consider buying them in person from rescue centres or from reputable breeders.