Residents across Cheshire are being urged to remain vigilant when buying pets online following an emerging trend of animal related scams during the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent months, there have been several reports of scammers using websites to advertise a pet and demand payment in advance across Cheshire.
Fraudsters are advertising pets such as puppies and kittens for sale online, asking victims to pay a deposit for the pet without seeing them in person.
Many scammers are using the coronavirus pandemic as a reason why victims cannot see the animal before purchasing.
After a deposit payment is made, criminals may then ask for more cash for insurance or vaccinations.
In the end fraudsters fail to provide a pet, leaving some victims out of pocket of over £1,000.
Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques, of the Economic Crime Unit said: “I would urge people to think very carefully before buying a pet online and be aware of the scams that are circulating at the moment.
“Sadly this is just one of a number of scams that have been reported to us during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you do decide that you want to buy a pet online then be sure to do your research and think about whether you know and trust the person you are buying from.
“I would urge anyone who believes that they have been a victim of this kind of fraud to report it by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.”
- Trust your instinct – If you can’t physically go to see the animal in person, ask for a video call. If the seller declines, challenge them on why. If you have any suspicions, don’t go ahead with the purchase.
- Do your research – Before purchasing anything online look up reviews for the website or person you are buying from. If you’re still not sure, ask a trusted friend or family member for their advice.
- Choose your payment method wisely – If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, avoid paying by bank transfer as it offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or a payment service such as PayPal.