Fake puppy scams on the rise as pet lovers lose thousands

23 August 2021, 10:07

Puppy scams are on the rise
Puppy scams are on the rise. Picture: Alamy

Pet scams are on the rise, with experts giving their advice on how to avoid losing money.

With most of us spending more time at home over the past year, it’s no surprise that the number of people buying dogs has risen significantly.

But now experts are warning that people could risk losing thousands of pounds if they fall for fake puppy ads on the internet.

According to Action Fraud, £2.6 million was lost by pet lovers in the 2020/21 financial year, after they had put down deposits for animals advertised online that turned out to be scams.

Thousands of people have been scammed when trying to buy dogs this year
Thousands of people have been scammed when trying to buy dogs this year. Picture: Alamy

Those affected have reported being scammed on social media, online marketplaces and pet-selling platforms.

This is thought to be an increase of over 20 per cent compared with the previous year.

Jim Winters, head of fraud at Barclays, says: “Over lockdown, we saw a particular rise in pet scams, where people paid in advance for a pet that they’ve seen online or been sent images of, only to find out the animal doesn’t exist.

“The issue with these types of scams is that when people are buying or investing in something that they really want, such as a family pet, suspicions they may have are often overlooked and they go against their better judgment, which leaves themselves open to being duped.”

Experts have revealed how not to fall for pet scams
Experts have revealed how not to fall for pet scams. Picture: Alamy

Giving advice about how you can avoid losing money, Jim said you should always ask for a second opinion from a friend or relative before sending any money over, and never just assume that the seller is who you think they are.

He added: “Always make sure you complete extra research and read reviews to ensure the person, company or website you are buying from is genuine.

“If you have concerns, do not give any personal or payment details, or be pressured into sending money, and remember – if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”