The COVID-19 Pandemic has provided fertile ground for scammers seeking to exploit the crisis.
The latest con, which has caught out families across the UK, including a handful of people in Angus, involves the offer of a puppy in exchange for large fee upfront and further insurance and delivery costs.
Some people have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket and the promised family pet nowhere in sight.
In the world of pet-sales it’s not uncommon for people to go in search of sellers online and this is where the scammers seek to snare people.
Mark Hodgkinson, Angus Council’s Adult Protection and Review Officer said:
“We’ve already seen a couple of people who have lost significant amounts of money. Having searched online they have only found criminals on websites who are pretending to sell puppies but are actually just stealing people’s money.
“Some of the people who fall prey to this scam are lonely and vulnerable and they are going in search of a pet for companionship at a time when they are feeling more isolated because of the coronavirus crisis.
“It is an extremely wicked crime to exploit someone’s hopes of getting a cute puppy to care for and then leave them with nothing but a hefty hole in their finances.
“I understand that the police and Trading Standards colleagues are making enquiries into this type of scam and would welcome any information that would help to identify those responsible and hold them to account.”
It is recommended that people looking to get a pet wait until after lockdown is lifted and a more normal way of life resumes. If you are buying a pet online, do your homework – seek out reviews or endorsements to ensure the seller is reputable and never part with any cash until you have actually seen the animal.
Getting an animal from an adoption centre or a reputable breeder is unlikely during lockdown and travelling to collect a new pet is not considered essential travel at this time.
If you know of anyone who may be vulnerable to financial scams or who has experienced financial harm you can make a referral to the Angus Financial Abuse Support Team or FAST by contacting us online www.angus.gov.uk/contact_the_council or by phone via 03452 777 778.
You can see the latest information about financial harm and scams on the Scam Free Angus pages of our website or by following the Angus Financial Harm Sub Committee on Twitter @scamfreeangus