Veterans are losing money to pet scams at alarming rates.
The Better Business Bureau reports veterans, military spouses, and veterans are reporting a significant loss of money due to online scammers.
These scams often take the form of a website that sells pets for lower prices than other websites but charges an outrageous shipping fee, or they sell animals as different breeds from what they are.
A veteran’s experience
Jim Weber, a retired U.S. Navy Chief Master at Arms Jim Weber, and his wife, Judy, looked for an ideal dog after losing their Chihuahua in a car accident.
Weber’s wife came across a Facebook ad that said Chihuahua puppies were available for $500 each.
The seller claimed that they were out of Georgia and needed a down payment of $250 for shipping the dog.
Weber exchanged 189 emails with the seller. He even sent his proof of payment. Once he paid, the seller stopped responding.
Unfortunately, the seller stopped replying after Andrew paid him.
After a few more tries, the seller started getting angry with Weber, responding, ‘why are you emailing me. I’m at work.’
Weber quickly found it was a puppy scam.
Weber has stage 4 spinal cancer making his movement limited.
He also said, “This puppy was supposed to be my friend, help fill a void in my heart.”
BBB reports pet scams target veterans
Tom Stephens, the CEO of BBB, said it’s mostly because many military members are on active duty or acting as single parents while their loved ones are stationed abroad.
While online shopping is more accessible these days, many individuals don’t have the time to examine each advertisement online thoroughly.
One of the biggest scams affecting veterans right now is ‘dogs for sale.’
“There never was a dog to start with because this guy is not a breeder. He’s a scammer,” Stephens said.
The agency has been getting numerous reports similar to Weber’s three to four times a week.
Potential puppy buyers usually send an alarming $750, $800, $1,000, $1,500 deposit before realizing it was all part of a scam.
How to avoid pet scams
According to Stephens, a reasonable rule of thumb is probably a scam if a dog is being offered for less than $1,000.
It is also essential that a buyer meets a dog breeder in person or use a payment app where refunds are accepted if the ad is fake.
According to the BBB, veterans reported an average loss of $133, military spouses reported an average of $132, and active-duty service members reported the highest average loss of $269. All in pet buying and pet supplies.
The agency added that 46% of American consumers fell victim to online scams in 2020.
That percentage increased to nearly 50% for veterans and almost to 60% for active duty service members.
There will be more frauds to avoid as the holidays approach. The most extensive report is online puppy scams, where a BBB researcher has found over 80% of online ads or scam-oriented websites.
Have you been scammed? If you suspect one, you may also report a scam at PetPress.