Beware of online kitten and pup scams
People seeking the companionship of a new pet during the Covid-19 lockdown are being conned by cruel fraudsters - with victims handing over hundreds of pounds for kittens and pups being falsely advertised for sale.
We’re urging people to be aware of online scams targeting residents seeking a furry friend to help them through the coronavirus isolation period.
The kittens and pups are advertised for sale online but scammers state potential buyers are unable to see them in person due to the coronavirus outbreak.
They are instead sent a cute picture and persuaded into bank transferring over sums - from £100 to nearly £400 - then never receive the pets.
We’ve had 10 reported victims across the West Midlands over the last two weeks and are warning people to be wary of such fraudsters.
Kloe Burrows, from our Economic Crime Unit (ECU) said: "These con-artists are preying on insecurities during the Covid-19 outbreak. People may be feeling lonely due to the lockdown and seeking some companionship; some may want the fresh focus of caring for a new pet.
"These scammers want to take advantage of this and it’s important to take precautions to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable seller and not become a fraud victim."
Our advice is:
- Be wary of offers that look too good to be true
- Research the seller and their history and reviews on the website
- Do not be convinced by pictures, they may have been taken from somewhere else on the internet, you can check photos using reverse image search online
- Ask for documentation from the owner of the puppy or kitten
- If you have fallen victim of a scam and sent money via a bank transfer make sure you contact your bank in the first instance
It comes as we’ve seen other cons over the last month including online shoppers who’ve ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and Covid-19 testing kits which never arrive.
We’re also aware and further exploring a sextortion scam where people are coerced into paying a Bitcoin ransom after being threatened with sharing a video of them visiting adult websites.
We’re also reminding the public to on their guard against courier fraud where tricksters make a telephone call claiming to be from their bank or the police.
They then trick their target, usually vulnerable or elderly, into handing over their bank cards and revealing their PIN or withdrawing cash and putting it into an envelope for collection.
- Your bank will never send a courier to your home
- Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card
- Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN
- If you receive one of these calls, end it immediately
To report suspicious activity message us via Live Chat on our website or go to the Action Fraud website.