Throughout the global pandemic, nationally we saw a huge rise in the number of people purchasing pets. Action Fraud reported that £2,638,323 was lost by prospective pet owners in 2020/21 making online deposits.
As the trend continues and people look to a pet, Detective Inspector Ben Robinson is urging people to remain vigilant around the risks of pet fraud.
Detective Inspector Ben Robinson said: “Throughout the pandemic, opportunistic fraudsters took advantage of unsuspecting victims and still continue to do so. They have set up fake websites and offered pets for sale that have never existed.
“It is really important that if you are buying a pet online that you are able to protect yourself and your money from criminals.
“A lot of selling sites allow you to pay a deposit directly to secure your pet. Please be cautious. At this point it’s extremely important you make sure the seller, and the pet are legitimate before handing over any money.”
What to look out for:
- Make sure you view the pet in person, preferably with their birth mum, if you can’t visit ask for a video call.
- If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts, and do not pay any money.
- Do your research, look up the person you are purchasing your pet from.
- Avoid paying by bank transfer – credit card or PayPal give you a better chance of recovering the money should the transaction be fraudulent.
Make sure you paws for thought and take five – STOP. CHALLENGE. PROTECT
If you think you might have been a victim of fraud report it to Action Fraud by visiting actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040, alternatively call us on 101. In an emergency or if a crime is in progress dial 999.
If you have information regarding those responsible for fraud, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.