NATIONAL NEWS - One of the many unfortunate side effects of Covid-19 has been an increase in the volume of fake news and a huge spike in the number of online fraudsters that are using false information to lure unsuspecting buyers.
Ekurhuleni SAPS has recently seen a huge spike in the number of fraud cases being opened relating to the online purchase of dogs and puppies and has issued a warning to residents in their respective communities.
Milly Barnard, community development manager for Fidelity ADT, said that these fraudsters are taking advantage of innocent people who are hoping to buy a dog during the lockdown.
Because of the nature of the cases, the actual number of incidents reported cannot be disclosed at present. However, Edenvale SAPS spokesperson Sgt Jacob Mashile has confirmed that at this stage investigators believe that it is a syndicate taking advantage of community members.
The following advice has been shared, and we urge you to warn any friends who may have been caught by this scam or are in the market to get a new puppy:
• Unless you can physically see, feel and touch the pet stay away from the offer.
• Do your research, seek registered and reputable animal rescue shelters instead of looking for a pet from an advert.
• Be vigilant and wary as scammers will invest time and resources to make themselves seem credible.
• Set up a disposable email address that you can use to communicate with sellers.
• Research the seller’s contact details, physical address, email, and any other information provided.
• If the seller claims to be in an area and then suddenly in another area when you ask if you can view the pet, it is a warning that you should reconsider doing business with them.
• Don’t share any private details with the seller.
• If you feel unsafe, ask to make the purchase in a public place like a shopping center or a police station.
“The sooner these scam artists can be caught the better and we urge anyone with information to report this to their closest police station,” Barnard concluded.