When it comes to buying pets online, double- and triple-check before sending money.
That’s the advice police in Merritt, B.C., issued on Thursday after saying a local resident was recently swindled out of $1,600 after trying to buy a puppy.
Police say the resident tried buying a French bulldog through an ad on Facebook Marketplace, but, after sending the money via e-transfer, didn’t receive the puppy and never heard from the seller again.
“These puppies may look cute, but you won’t actually get them if you send your money to a scammer,” said RCMP Sgt. Josh Roda.
“Please double and triple check the validity of the sellers before sending them money.”
Below are tips from police to ensure you won’t be scammed when trying to buy a pet online.
- Be skeptical.
- Look for stock photos beings used and sketchy payment methods.
- Paying by credit card through a secure site or Paypal is always the safest option.
- Buy from a reputable breeder.
- Responsible breeders are happy to share information about puppy parentage and health records and screenings.
- Read reviews about the seller.
- Ask lots of questions.
- Visit the breeder/seller in person or set up a live video call to meet the breeder and puppy.
- Don’t pay for a puppy sight unseen, unless you know the person, or know someone who has made a successful purchase from them.
- Be patient, don’t rush into a purchase if the seller is pushing you to make one.
Earlier this year, RCMP said they were also seeing ads for puppies that needed to be rehomed immediately because an emergency had befallen the seller.
“In this instance, when the victim inquires about the dog, they are told a heartbreaking story and then told the puppy will need to be shipped to its new home,” said police, “and so the victim is asked to pay for transportation costs, as well as any insurance, and vaccination costs, often costing the victim thousands of dollars.”
The RCMP is urging online shoppers and puppy lovers to educate themselves and seriously consider adopting animals in person.
“Do your research on the breeders to ensure they are reputable,” said police. “Do not pay by sending cash, money transfers, or money orders.”
For more information on how to protect yourself from scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
And if you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, contact your local police detachment.