My roommate recently adopted a tiny 8-week old kitten who, not to brag, is Extremely Cute, and watching her attempt to attack every cord in our apartment (in between her naps on top of our laptop keyboards) has provided me with endless hours of entertainment over the past month. Since a global pandemic began to spread across the United States, people have been buying and adopting pets en masse, and it’s understandable—these are difficult times, and a loving pet can be both a welcome distraction and a source of a little extra affection.
But of course, where there is consumer demand, there are also scammers. Buzzfeed News reports that as a result of the public health crisis, there has been a boom in the online pet scam business. Although pet purchasing scams were around before the covid-19 pandemic, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have led people who would normally never buy a pet before seeing it to take the risk in an attempt to get a puppy or kitten to play with during their days stuck inside. And that’s exactly what these scammers are counting on.
Brady said pet scammers make most of their money from additional fees charged after a customer pays the initial deposit. “Buying a pet is an emotional purchase, so once you have that initial deposit made you can make up all sorts of rubbish,” he said.
So, if you’re considering getting a pet while you’re still stuck inside, be sure to do your research to avoid scams like these. And if buying seems too risky, there’s always the option to adopt. Even though shelters across the country are actually reporting that they have completely empty adoption centers, there are always more animals out there in need of a home.