Frank T.’s beloved 17-year-old, long-haired dachshund dog had recently died, and he wanted a new puppy.
But, he couldn’t find any local breeders with puppies available.
So, he began scrolling through pictures of puppies for sale online and found a dachshund puppy named Pippa.
At first, the seller responded to Frank’s e-mail with follow up questions.
The seller of the puppy wanted to know if there was a veterinary clinic near Frank, and if he had experience with the breed and raising puppies.
The seller explained that they were making sure that he was a good fit for the puppy.
After emailing back and forth with the seller, Frank paid them $800 using a mobile payment app.
Looking back, he admits there were red flags in the e-mail conversations.
For example, when he asked to see pictures of the puppy’s parents the seller claimed to have thrown the pictures away.
The final straw for Frank came when he received an e-mail from a company claiming to be an animal transport service.
The company asked for $1,500 to arrange transportation from the breeder to his home.
Frank did an online search for the company and couldn’t find anything about them.
Frank ended up losing $800, but thankfully he didn’t send the fake company the transport fee.
For many people across the world now is an ideal time to get a new puppy.
Many folks are working from home these days meaning they can watch a new puppy.
The increase in people looking for dogs has also led to an increase in scams.
Scammers build fancy looking websites with dozens of pictures of dogs.
They even include fake testimonials about previous puppies.
The Better Business Bureau has recorded more than 2,100 online pet scams in the U.S. from mid-February to the end of July.
This is up from 700 during the same period last year.
When the pandemic started, scammers seized the opportunity.
More people are stuck at home and scammers know this.
With that being said, here are the top scams going on right now and how to avoid them.
COVID-19 relief: Many social media users get messages offering so-called COVID-19 Relief Grants.
Usually, scammers use hacked or duplicated social media accounts created with stolen pictures.
The scammers pose as a friend or relative of the person receiving the message.
So, people think someone they know is sending the message and the relief grant is real.
But once you take the bait, the scammer responds that there is an upfront processing fee you need to pay.
Once you send the fee, the conversation ends, and your money is gone for good.
To avoid these COVID scams always check the website URL.
Most COVID programs come straight from the government and the website should end in .gov.
Also, never click on a link sent to you over social media, it could lead to a website infected with a virus.
Instead, do an online search for the website and verify its legitimacy.
Cute puppy scam: Studies have shown that folks who have a dog are less stressed.
Which is why the puppy scam I just mentioned works so well.
If you are considering getting a new puppy, try to find one that you can drive to and verify its real.
If you are doing it all online, do a reverse Google image search.
Check to make sure the picture of the puppy you are getting isn’t on ten different websites.
Anytime you send money online to someone you don’t know there is clearly a big risk.
Your package arrived: People all over the U.S. have been receiving mysterious packages they never ordered.
Most of the packages come from China.
The deliveries contain cheap jewelry, kitchen items, small toys and even seeds.
This bizarre scam is called brushing.
The point of this scam is that online retailers are trying to give themselves positive reviews.
For example, when you buy something on Amazon you can leave a review.
But Amazon has a method for verifying the reviewer actually made a purchase, which stops people from spamming reviews.
So, online sellers in China find addresses in the U.S. where they can ship inexpensive packages.
Next, they create a fake account on the website using the address where they shipped the product.
That address is only used to let them create fake reviews.
If you are a victim of a brushing scam, immediately contact the website that sent the package.
Also, change your password for the online retailer that shipped you the package.
These are just a few of the scams that have gained traction since the pandemic began.
At the end of the day, always remember that if something online seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t real.