Surge in pet advert scams online in the UK

In the UK, fraudsters are advertising non-existing pets on social media for sale and this is just one tiny aspect of the burgeoning expansion of crime in the UK where the police are sitting on their hands doing nowhere near enough about it. For example, just 6% of burglaries are solved by police in the UK. And there is an epidemic of online fraud in a myriad of forms which is simply not being addressed by the British government. The police simply do not have the means or the wherewithal nor the intelligence to stop online fraud which is fleecing millions of British citizens.

Beware online pet advert scams. Be cynical. Believe no-one. Challenge and demand to see the animal and seller in person. Can’t do it? STOP.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The British citizen has become vulnerable to theft on an island described as “treasure Island” by the criminals. They can do as they please. It seems that we are alone in a broken country.

It’s reported that £1.2 billion was stolen through fraud in 2022. The Covid-pandemic opened the door to mass fraud and scams costing the country billions. And the great generosity of the British government in handing out 80% of people’s salary during Covid-19 to do nothing has engendered a lazy race of people who don’t want to work and at the same time it fuelled inflation which is biting hard at the moment.

The NHS has made people sicker than in other countries because that is also a broken institution. Nearly 43 million UK adult Internet users have encountered suspected scams online with one in five left £1000 out of pocket. It is shocking to report that 9/10 adults in the UK i.e. 90% approximately have come across content they suspected to be a scam or fraud as revealed by research commissioned by Ofcom.

In the research, almost 50% of the participants said that they had been personally drawn into an online scam. And 25% of those who said that they had encountered online scams had lost money as a result. The numbers are shocking in terms of the number of people falling victim to online scams and the amount of money scammed out of them.

Pet scamming

And pet scamming is just one aspect of this. The Times reports today that animal lovers are losing hundreds of pounds to fraudsters.

Online pet scamming has jumped by 24% in one year. The fraudsters are profiting from selling dogs, cats and other animals that they don’t possess and therefore cannot sell. It is shocking, too, that people fall foul of the scams. Nobody should be buying cats and dogs online on social media in any case because it is the wrong way to go about adopting a companion animal.

On average, victims lost £307, research carried out by Lloyds Bank has revealed. It is said that social media users are pressured to pay for a pet before meeting the animal and the animal’s mother in person. That is the sure way to beat scamming but people are tempted into diving in and actually believing sellers of pets on social media. You cannot trust them.

And if a seller asks for money upfront you do not comply with that request. Never transfer money to someone you’ve not met online upfront. That is the basic rule.

The scammers offer popular breeds of cat and dog that are hard to find elsewhere and they provide fake addresses and contact details. They then take down the advert and cut off contact once they got their hands on your money.

Some of the most commonly sold dog breeds are Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians and Rottweilers. As for the cat breeds, some popular ones are Ragdolls, Maine Coons and Sphynxes.

The Times reports that fake sales of horses, dogs and cats have risen by 42%, 19% and 13% respectively.

Police Scotland reported that a resident lost more than £1000 trying to buy a dog on the Internet. They had never met the seller nor the dog but felt confident enough to send £1000 to that person. I’m sorry, but that is really, really foolish. Perhaps these victims get taken in by their desire to adopt a companion animal. Perhaps they are lonely and they are emotionally driven to take this high-risk step of sending money to an unknown person for, realistically, an unknown product. They are buying a cat or dog from a photograph.

Lloyds bank said that fraudsters keep track of popular breeds of animal and recycle products from other websites to create their advertisements. They convince prospective buyers by providing fake vaccination details and health check details together with a fake history. It all looks real but it is all totally fake.

I stress, as I’ve stressed before, that nobody should be buying pets online sight unseen. You really must challenge the person and then visit that person and the animal that they are selling. If they can’t do that then you do not proceed. And, never send money upfront to anybody you don’t know.

1 in 3000 chance of going to prison for fraud

In the UK, fewer than one in 3000 fraud offences committed in 2022 resulted in a prison sentence for the perpetrators. The number of fraud offences in England and Wales rose from 441,174 2012 to 3.7 million in 2022! The number of offenders successfully prosecuted over the same period has fallen from 12,378 to 3,455. Just another example of the hopelessness of enforcing the law in the UK. It simply isn’t happening and it sends entirely the wrong message to criminals. They know with a high degree of certainty that they can get away with their crimes. And so, it’s an upward spiral of criminality in the UK. This is very worrying for citizens.

Lost pet scams

Lastly, there is a market in lost pet scams. Just another aspect of scammy, busted Britain. The Infographic below discusses this aspect of British criminality which is bugging the hell out of me.

Lost pet scammers infographic
Lost pet scammers infographic prepared by MikeB. It can be used by anyone under a Creative Commons: ATTRIBUTION-NODERIVS CC BY-ND license.

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