Sheriff’s Office: Animal Lovers Beware

If you see an online ad for a dog, or any pet, be warned: that pooch’s pictures may just be a trick to steal your money.

Because of the upcoming cold weather and holidays, lots of people feel the urge to cuddle and care for a puppy or cat especially one that doesn’t have a home and needs all the TLC an animal lover can give.

Scam artists have bilked animal lovers by posting ads with pictures of puppies and other pets. The ads often include a compelling story about why the puppy is available, and details about his or her lovable personality. The ads may request a reasonable payment for the pet, say $300, or they may claim the pet is available to a good home for free – if you pay for shipping.

If you pay, you’ll get additional requests for money for things like vet bills, crating, shipping, or inspection costs. But when it’s all said and done, Lassie never comes home – because she wasn’t really for sale in the first place.

Here are a few tips to keep you from getting dogged by scammers selling phantom pets:index

• Don’t use a money transfer service. The surest sign of a scam is when someone insists you use a money transfer service – like Western Union or Money Gram – as the only form of payment for a pet. Money transfers are like sending cash; once you send it, you can’t get it back. Cash reload packs – like Green Dot Moneyman, Vanilla Reload or Reload it – come with the same risks.

• Do your research. Ask for detailed information about the person selling the pet. What is the person’s full name, phone number and mailing address? What turns up if you search online for the seller’s name or phone number with the word “scam” or “complaint”?

Try doing a reverse image search of the photo to see if it appears in older ads. To do this, right click on the photo and select “copy image location,” “copy image address,” or go to “properties” to copy the image’s location on the internet. Paste the link into a search engine and select the option that allows you to search by image. If the same picture shows up in an older listing, it’s probably a scam. Sometimes, the photos are from social media sites or old listings; the scammer simply re-posts them with a new, bogus online classified add But keep in mind: even if you don’t find anything wrong it doesn’t mean that everything’s alright.

• Consider adoption from the Greenwood animal shelter. Pets of all types are in shelters across the U.S. waiting for loving homes. They can be adopted for a small fee.

If a pretending pooch peddler pilfers money from your pockets, you may contact me and/or file a complaint with the FTC. also let the money transfer company know, too. You must be AWARE the chances of getting your money back will most likely be zero.

Dale Kittles, Captain

Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office

528 Edgefield St.

Greenwood, S.C. 29646

864.942.8600 – Main

864.943.8057 – Office

About Dr. Robert Stevenson

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