Police warn scammers using man’s best friend as bait

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels.

With stay-at-home orders in place across the globe, many people are buying new pets to help them feel more connected. Unfortunately, shoppers who are looking for a furry friend may be in for a big surprise. According to a release from Kingston Police, dated Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, cybercriminals are creating phony online pet shops that advertise unbelievable prices on purebred puppies. The Kingston Police Fraud Unit is warning that this has become a popular scam in our region and many Kingstonians have reported being defrauded out of their hard earned money with nary a puppy to show for their efforts.

These malicious pet shop sites sometimes include poorly written testimonials from alleged buyers that often don’t make sense, Kingston Police said in the release. For example, one testimonial claimed that their “German Shepherd baby had hatched”. If you overlook these phony testimonials and click the “Buy Me!” button under the photo of an adorable puppy, police say you’ll be taken to a contact page to begin your email conversation with the supposed seller. Via email, the scammers will ask you to pay for your puppy using Bitcoin or a service provider, such as Paypal, according to the release. Of course, any money you send goes straight to the scammers and you’ll never receive your puppy or see your money again.

Here are some tips from Kingston Police to avoid this “ruff scam”:

  • Always be wary of websites with poorly-written information, including testimonials and reviews from customers.
  • Remember, if a price sounds too good to be true, it is! Purchasing a purebred dog is typically very expensive, so scammers are trying to use low prices to trick you into acting impulsively.
  • If you are in the market for a new pet, be sure to research the rescue shelter, pet adoption agency, or licensed breeder before making a purchase.

Kingston Police remind you to stop, look, and think. Don’t be fooled by the scammers.

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