PET SCAMS - How to avoid them
So, you have spotted an advertisement for the most adorable puppy that looks like a pet of your dream. You feel a pull on your heartstrings; “I have to bring him home!”. But how do you identify whether it’s a reputable breeder or a pet scammer?
Don’t Fall for Pet Scammers!
Pet scammers are criminals first and foremost. They often use free websites, classified advertising websites, local newspapers, and social media sites (predominantly Facebook and Instagram) to advertise pets that don’t actually exist! Their main goal is to take your money. They have no regard for animal welfare or customer satisfaction. So, they should be avoided at all costs.
Having an experience of being scammed when you are searching for your dream pet is devastating, both from a financial and emotional perspective. It can be extremely frustrating especially for families with kids because little ones are often the most vulnerable in these situations.
How to spot a pet scammer?
- False advertising: Scammers may advertise puppies and kittens at very low prices to attract unsuspecting buyers. They will often demand a deposit and when it’s paid, they can disappear without a trace by blocking the buyer or refusing to reply.
- Shipping costs: Scammers often ask prospective buyers to pay for shipping, which can result in anything from a few £500 to £1000s, leaving people out of pocket and never delivering their pet.
- Free shipping: Alternatively, scammers might offer free shipping, which is created to attract potential buyers. However, it’s practically impossible to offer a professional and safe pet shipping service free of charge. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Fake photos: Scammers may use pictures from other breeders and pretend that they are their own. They may also use free stock photos and palm them off as their own animals.
- No medical records: Scammers will never share a pet’s medical records, such as vaccination confirmations and health test results. These should always be readily available to view from professional breeders.
- Payment through unsecure platforms: Scammers may demand payment through Western Union or MoneyGram. They might even flat-out refuse to accept credit card payments by giving excuses.
- Pedigree-cross claims: Some scammers use this tactic to attract people in order to hike up prices. Any cat or dog that is advertised as a “pedigree-cross” is not a pedigree. Therefore, it won’t be registered with any professional breed registry, and you will receive no health guarantees or pedigree documents.
- Focusing on in-demand breeds: Have you heard of a new upcoming breed and then suddenly you find the perfect pet through an advert? Pet scammers will keep an eye on breed trends, so they are more likely to advertise popular breeds.
- No phone calls: Pet scammers will insist on communicating through impersonal methods such as email. A reputable breeder will communicate with you via phone or video chat throughout the whole buying process.
- Upfront deposit: Many scammers will ask you to pay a very high deposit upfront before you have seen the animal. This is a major red flag. A reputable breeder will allow you to see the animal in person or via a video call before committing. Also, make sure you can see the animal in its current environment, with the mother and siblings.
How prevalent are pet scammers?
Unfortunately, pet scammers are much more widespread than people think, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. Pet scams have risen by 24% since 2022, with victims losing an average of £307 per fake transaction. The most common tactic used by pet scammers is to advertise animals on Facebook or Instagram (over 50%), often with a stock photo and a sob story that’s designed to tug on the heartstrings. However, be aware that pet scammers are constantly coming up with increasingly sophisticated ways to deceive prospective buyers, including email and SMS messaging.
What makes us different?
At the Pedigree Paws, we are on a mission to eliminate pet scammers for good.
By using our platform, you have a guarantee that when you order a pet from us, you will receive your pet. This is because we only collaborate with the most ethical cat and dog breeders. Moreover, we will facilitate direct contact between you and the breeder, so you can see your potential new family member in person or via video call. You also have the opportunity to ask the breeder any questions you may have, to put your mind at ease.
Pet scammers will often come up with excuse after excuse as to why you can’t see your pet before payment or why you can’t be sent medical records. Asking questions is essential to make sure you are comfortable and confident with the process. In fact, we encourage you to ask our breeders for as much information as you need. Questions you can ask include:
- Can I see the puppies or kittens with their mother?
- Have the offspring been appropriately socialised and weaned?
- How old is the mother and how many litters has she had?
- Have the puppies or kittens been vaccinated and microchipped?
- Have the parents suffered from any medical conditions?
- Have the offspring been screened for any particular medical issues?
- Can I see the registration documents?
- What are the mother and father’s temperaments like?
- Will I be given any support or advice on diet, training, etc. when I receive my new pet?
The Pedigree Paws Promise
We have a zero policy for pet scammers!
When you use our platform, you automatically promote ethical and reputable breeders. The more we do this, the more we advocate against pet scammers. As a company, we are fully transparent, as are our partner breeders, and we disclose all the information required for your future family member. This includes Pedigree documents and health test results.