Dec 08, 2020
Beware of pet-related scams!
They start with online photos of cute animals when you Google "cute puppies for sale near me!"
Attorney General Curtis Hill and Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM, are warning Hoosiers to watch out for online pet-adoption scams.
Both offices have received complaints recently from citizens who have made down payments on animals they found on the internet — only to learn after paying multiple fees and never receiving animals that they were duped by fraudsters.
“These scammers know that increased numbers of people are shopping online during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Attorney General Hill said. “They’re banking on consumers’ willingness to arrange delivery of pets sight unseen — other than the cute pictures consumers may have seen on the internet.”
The scammers sometimes create websites made to look like they are operated by legitimate entities, either selling or adopting out pets. They may advertise the websites on social media or in email pitches.
The fraudulent ads often feature photos of puppies or kittens, said Dr. Marsh, who leads the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.
“Most times the pet does not actually exist at all,” he said. “And scammers try to milk their victims for as much money as possible.”
After a pet is ordered and a payment is made for the pet and shipping charges, would-be buyers often learn that other fees are required — perhaps for vaccinations or other veterinary care. Fraudsters also concoct stories about additional shipping expenses — claiming, perhaps, that an animal has landed in another state, requiring some type of permit expense for the stop-over at an airport.
The FBI and National Consumers League both have taken notice of such scams nationwide. They offer such tips as the following, adapted from their websites:
Often your local veterinarian or even a shelter can be a resource for identifying reputable sources of pets.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a scam or targeted by scammers should file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General at indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516.
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