Anyone considering buying a pet via a website should be wary of making any payments until you have done aggressive research on the facility/kennel!
Over the past year, and due to covid lockdowns, there has been an increase in websites selling pets. In some cases, these sites are entirely fake. This type of scam is particularly crueler, much like the popular scams targeting the less tech-savvy using fake refund/bank/amazon login sites.
The scam goes a little like this:
- Attackers setup a fake website, usually using something like WordPress.
- Attackers then go to various websites and steal images of real dogs belonging to other kennels/sellers.
- Attackers then set up a fake marketplace utilizing the stolen content.
- Attackers then optimize their websites to rank higher then real kennels.
Due to the nature of how idiotic SEO algorithms are, buyers are funneled in directly to the fake site via search engines. Once on the site, the attackers use multiple metrics to optimize their profiles and ultimately scam their targets.
How To Avoid Being Scammed By Fake Pet Store Sites
- Do Your Research, Call, Visit (if you can), ask for a Zoom, Skype, Duo, or Facetime video call.
- If You are paying a premium price for a high-end breed, Look up the kennel club’s information, the American Kennel Club Is a first good step.
- Take the profile picture of the site’s pet profile and do a quick Google Image Search, make sure it’s not a stock photo or a stolen image from another site.
- Watch out for foreign accents.
- Ask for a license, visit their state’s or local municipality’s website and verify their license. You should be able to call a customer service line as well.
- Don’t use giftcards, cryptocurrency, zell, cash, check. Use PayPal or a Credit Card which offers better protection from such scams.
As a previous pet owner, I know how falling for a scam like this can upset anyone. Hopefully, these quick tips will have helped someone trying to get a pet do it a bit more safely and, most importantly, not fall for a potential scam.
When your new pet gets home, don’t forget to buy them lots of treats!