The Niagara Regional Police Service says puppy scams are on the rise in the region.
It said in a news release”due to the current COVID-19 pandemic; with so many people isolated in their homes, individuals may be seeking companionship through purchasing a puppy.”
And some of those people are getting scammed. Here’s how the con works: The scammer requests money from the pet purchaser upfront, prior to meeting in person. They cite COVID-19 as the reason for not being able to meet in person. The excuse is also used if there is a great distance between the buyer and scammer.
After the initial fee is sent to the seller, the buyer is then contacted by a so-called shipping company. More money is requested for a specialized dog crate. The buyer is also asked for insurance fees. Or they are told the puppy is sick and more money needs to be sent.
The NRPS provided the following steps that a buyer can take to protect themselves against a fraud scam:
- Request several references from the seller/breeder including the vaccinating veterinarian.
- Check the creation date of the website used to advertise the puppies. A reputable breeder will have an older website where scam-related sites may be only one to two weeks old with only recent reviews. You can lookk up the creation date of a website’s domain (address) using this site: https://lookup.icann.org/lookup .
- Hold payment until physically seeing the dog whether in person (while following COVID safety precautions) or via virtual meeting.
- Check the Canadian Kennel Club to confirm whether or not the breeder is listed.
- Check the background of images for inconsistencies.
- For images that are able to be clicked and dragged drag the image to a Google search bar. If the image appears on numerous sites or advertisements this is another red flag.
- Search the email address and phone number provided.