Since March 2020 there have been 6,366 reported pet scams, costing victims a total of £2.4million
The figures from Action Fraud are taken from when we went into the first lockdown a year ago. Since then a whopping 3.2 million households in the UK have bought a pet.
Most scammers use Facebook or Instagram accounts claiming they have puppies for sale. Some charge up to £1,200 each, depending on the breed. Often they will use photos taken from other people’s social media accounts – including reputable breeders – to try and sell the puppies.
Victims are usually sent pictures or videos of the dog and pay a deposit. But then never hear from the seller again.
As well as costing us financially, the emotional impact is just as great. We become attached to our pet, naming it and preparing for its arrival. The shock when we realise it has all been a scam can be overwhelming.
Ashley was a victim of such a scam. As well as losing £400 she was left ‘heartbroken’. “I don’t have any children,” she told the BBC. “To give that love and attention to something new in your family and it be taken away from you, it’s just awful.”
As well as scams, lockdown has seen a rise in thefts. Police have warned dog owners of posting pictures of their pets online which reveal their location. DogLost is a UK charity that helps victims of dog theft. It recorded a 170 per cent increase in crimes, from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 dogs in 2020.
Tips for pet owners:
- Avoid leaving your pet alone while out in public
- Make sure your privacy settings on social media are set correctly and avoid using tags which reveal your location
- If you own an expensive dog breed look into extra security or CCTV
For more on scams including how to spot a scammer visit here.