Criminals are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to trick animal lovers in lockdown into handing over cash before they can travel to meet their new pets.
In just two months the police say that 699 people have been left devastated after losing over £282,000 after responding to fake online pet advertisements.
After the victim responds to the advert, they are asked to pay a deposit which is followed by demands for more money to cover vaccinations, pet insurance and even delivering the pet.
For most people paying a deposit upfront to reserve a puppy or kitten and then waiting a while to see it in real life can seem quite plausible, especially given the country is in lockdown. However, as many people are discovering, the pets they thought they were buying don’t actually exist.
Think before you buy
The message to pet lovers is to think before you part with your money. Do you know this person at the other end of the advert? Can you trust them?
Anyone looking to buy a pet should always do their research first. Find out as much as you can about the website and the seller and ask to see a video of the animals they have on sale. If you have any doubts, don’t go ahead with the purchase and perhaps consider adopting from a rescue shelter instead.