01 Sep On-line Pet Scams
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“On-line Pet Scams”
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams Acting Program
Here we are in September of 2019! Wow. Summer is just about over and autumn is next on the seasonal agenda. It seems like there’s always a lot of activity when we change seasons. Everybody is busy – Even the scammers! Rest assured that fraudsters will be out in full force, as they always are, designing new and better ways to separate us from our hard earned cash and retirement funds! In order to stay several steps ahead of these criminals, we need to be savvy seniors – conscious and aware of their fraudulent schemes. Sadly, online pet scams are on the rise these days, an arena where scammers are particularly aggressive. There are countless horror stories of seniors sending off thousands of dollar to buy a pet online, only to discover that, in reality, the pet never existed in the first place, and that the seller was a fake! Let’s take a closer look at online pet scams and see what we can do to protect ourselves against this deceit.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “…the best way to avoid finding yourself a victim of an online puppy scam and inadvertently supporting cruel breeding is to not buy a puppy online.”¹ Further, the Humane Society of the United States suggests that “adopting is the best way to find a new pet,”² and refers customers to local shelters or rescue groups rather than purchasing a pet online. And finally, a recent study on pet scams³ done by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in conjunction with the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) has this important message for consumers. — “The simple truth is that the best way to avoid a fraud is to inspect the pet yourself by arranging to meet with the prospective seller in person. Most legitimate breeders will welcome the visit. There is no good way to be sure you are not dealing with a fraud if you have no direct in person contact with the seller.”³ Obviously, this is all sound advice. The best approach is to avoid buying a pet online, and instead, purchase a pet from your local shelter or rescue group!
BUYING A PET ONLINE ANYWAY
But if, for whatever reasons, you have decided to buy a new pet online anyway, here are a few red flags from IPATA³ that indicate the advertiser / shipper is likely a fraud.
- Say that they are giving the animal away because of some family hardship, or death of the previous owner, etc.
- Use a free gmail or yahoo account.
- Initially tell you that the pet is in a location near you. However, when you want to come see the animal, they say the animal has been moved to another location where you cannot visit or pick up the pet. Now the animal will have to be shipped to you.
- Ask for payment only by Western Union or MoneyGram.
- Once you send payment, a new “problem” will occur, e.g., suddenly, the pet needs a different kind of crate, pet insurance, a health certificate, etc., all of which costs more money.
- Use different company names in email correspondence, and do not provide any telephone number to contact them if needed.
- Use scammer grammar in emails.
If you believe you have been the victim or the target of any scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. And then — Pass It On! If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. For more info regarding California SMP, go to www.cahealthadvocates.org.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
*Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Save the Date – SSSAP will be performing (free) on Saturday September 14th at 2pm in the Donald Bruce Kaufman Brentwood Branch Library, 11820 San Vicente Blvd., LA, CA 90049. Also, SSSAP, along with Amanda Jacoby, has launched a new PSA called “Just Hang Up!” To view the new PSA, please visit the SSSAP Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more information, please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Save the Date – SSSAP performs (free): April 9, 9:45-11:30 am, Our Lady of Lourdes, Stroup Hall, 18400 Kinzie Street, Northridge, CA 91325. For more information, please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.