Number of the Day

The Dismaying Rise in Pet Scams, by the Numbers

Fraudsters have swindled $3 million from people looking for animal companionship during the pandemic

Photo illustration, source: Tran Mau Tri Tam/Unsplash

3,969: That’s the number of pet-related fraud reports the Better Business Bureau received this year through November, projected to go up to 4,300 by the end of the year. Together, the reported scams swindled more than $3 million from would-be pet adopters, six times the total losses reported in 2017.

Demand for pets has surged during the pandemic, with adoption shelters and pet breeders saying they have more interest than they can handle. Scammers have been quick to take advantage of people’s willingness to pay higher prices and deal with less-reputed vendors to bring home a pet. They have also been using the pandemic as an excuse to offer secure delivery of puppies and kittens rather than letting prospective pet owners meet or pick up their pet in person — which makes their scams much easier to pull off.

While searches on the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker for “kitten” and “puppy” yield hundreds and thousands of consumer complaints from this year, what we’re really curious about are the only two reports of “parakeet” scams, both originating in Columbus, Ohio.

No scams reported for pet tarantulas, so try getting one of those to cuddle.

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