Through every crisis, there are people who see opportunity and the Covid-19 pandemic has been no different. Not only have some despicable people been targeting the elderly and vulnerable posing as vaccination teams from the NHS but phishing emails and online scams have gone through the roof, costing the victims over £11 million in the UK alone.
One of the fastest rising scams is the sale of puppies to families during the pandemic which, while it has always been an issue, has seen a sharp increase during Covid-19. Bogus puppy sales people claim to have puppies for sale and then cut contact after receiving initial payments.
This post includes information on puppy fraud focused on the following points:
- Why it’s happening
- What to watch for
- How you can help
There are many reasons for people being targeted by fraudsters selling puppies but there are some specific reasons why it has spiked during the pandemic while you will need to be vigilant when looking for a puppy and there are some things you can look out for and whether you are a victim or not, there are some things you can do to help others.
Scammers Spot Opportunity
Everyone loves a puppy and they can be a great addition to a family, as a friend for singles or a companion for lonely people and while our busy lives and the demands of the modern workplace could drive you to check out virtual receptionist pricing, a dog can also be a great asset for stress relief. Not only will a dog or puppy provide you with lots of companionship but having to walk them every day gets you out of your rut and into some exercise with some fresh air and vitamin D.
Puppy fraud has been around for a long time with a long list of victims and doesn’t only include taking payment and not delivering but also delivering puppies that have been forcefully bred on a puppy farm in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. This type of breeding means that many puppies are delivered with issues such as fleas, ticks or deformities, serious health conditions due to inbreeding and in some cases the dogs themselves are stolen and sold on to an unsuspecting consumer.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise in the number of people looking to buy a dog or a puppy as they felt it was a good time to raise one given the extra time off work or having the advantage of working from home. Others are feeling lonely because of restrictions being placed on them, specifically from not being able to go out as much they usually would.
Because of this, scammers have identified a lucrative prospect while Coronavirus rages on and are offering puppies to all kinds of people including families, couples and elderly individuals alike, preying on their vulnerable state while being isolated from family and friends. Not being able to personally visit the puppies because of restrictions has also provided a golden opportunity for online scams.
Stay Vigilant and Ask Questions
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to help yourself when it comes to puppy scams. Responsible breeders and those authorized by The Kennel Club will almost always encourage you to come and see the puppy in person if you are able, but because of Covid-19 this isn’t currently possible. However, you could request live video calls so that you can see the puppy and breeder together in order to check the condition and whether the puppy is real or not and if video calling is not available then request a new photo of the puppy with a specific item.
You should be careful of anyone who refuses a visit or video call and only provides still images since a puppy image can be downloaded from anywhere. To check this you could use Google’s image search feature to see if the image is found anywhere else since scammers are usually lazy and will grab the first image they see and use it across multiple sites.
You can also ask for the breeder’s details including Kennel Club membership and their phone number. Some of the biggest scammers are based in African countries so just checking that their phone number is based in your own area can help, although there are possibly many scammers based in your own country or city.
A good breeder should be able to provide you with medical details of the puppy such as vaccination plans and subdermal microchips they might have administered to the puppy. It is common for legitimate breeders to have these done ASAP so as to avoid disease amongst litters and have them legally registered.
Get Involved and Inform Others
The best way you can help with scams such as this is to make people aware of what is happening, especially if it has happened to you. Don’t stop telling your story and provide as much detail as you can across social media and your blog if you have one. Getting the word out there is the best way of combating scams of this nature and the more people you make aware then the more the information can propagate.
You should also consider informing the police and legitimate breeder associations so that they can make people aware of their news sites and blogs which will probably have a wider reach than your own. The police can also make a case against any scammers if they have enough victims and enough information, but if they have no details then nothing can really be done about it.
There are also legitimate scam-spotting sites that list ongoing and new scams that are always popping up so becoming a vigilant member of online scam spotting is a great way to get involved in helping in the fight against fraud of all kinds. PetScams.com, for example, is a specific scam awareness site involved in sharing the details of animal-related scams such as with puppies and attracts a lot of visitors, so sharing your information on a site such as this can potentially help a lot of people.