With all of the shopping that takes place online these days, it’s inevitable that people are even buying pets online without seeing them first in person. This provides another avenue for scammers to try and exploit victims. For some reason, these scams are prevalent from Cameroonian fraudsters in particular, but like all internet fraud, they can originate from any country in the world.
These scams can and do involve dogs, monkeys, birds and other ‘animals’ that don’t really exist. They can appear on sites such as craigslist, or could be sent to you as unsolicited emails. Regardless of how they are encountered, here are a few ways to spot and more importantly avoid being taken advantage of by a pet scammer.
– If anything related to buying a pet online involves Cameroon or a phone number with its international dialing code of +237, it is almost certainly some type of fraud. The United States Embassy even has a warning regarding this particular scam.
– Pet scams will often offer ‘adoption’ or ‘rehoming’ of pets. Always keep in mind that something such as an expensive American Kennel Club certified dog will not need to be advertised online to find a home for ‘adoption’. A home could easily be found, and there would be no logical reason to search for someone online to adopt an expensive pet and then go through the hassle of shipping it.
– Because of high market value, Bulldog and Yorkshire Terrier puppies seem to be the most common pets for these scammers to use, in particular the pet scams originating from Cameroon.
– Do your research on the pet you are looking to purchase. Is one being offered at well below the price of the same animal elsewhere? Scammers will often offer too good to be true deals on expensive items to lure in potential victims, and pets are no different.
– Often these pet scammers will use fake ‘pet shipping’ or ‘pet re-locater’ companies as part of their scams. These fake companies may even have fake websites set up by the scammers to lend credibility to their scams. If it’s a supposed company that is talking to you and not a private individual, either a pet selling company or shipping company, keep in mind that legitimate companies like this will never be writing to you with a free email such as yahoo or gmail.
– If a fee is asked for via a service such as Western Union or MoneyGram, be it for the pet itself or for a shipping fee, it is a scam.
The best way to avoid a pet scam is to do things the old fashioned way. See the pet in person before you buy it, and know for sure that you are actually purchasing a real animal.