Furry Friend Fraud

April 1, 2022 | Bank Iowa


Finding that perfect furry companion to welcome into your home and heart might look different than it used to.  Many reputable rescue leagues, shelters and breeders now post pictures online, have videos of available pets, or host an online meet and greet. It’s easy to get emotionally attached in short order, but before you do, we encourage you to do your research. 


Scammers are using technology to take advantage of these situations.  These bad actors make people believe they are someone they are not, that pets are available or imply that a pet is being shipped to their new home when there was never a pet available, or worse - may deliver a sick animal.


Here's some red flags to be aware of when looking for a new pet:

  • Work with local and reputable rescue leagues or shelters.
  • Never pay with gift cards or wire money to the current pet owner.  If you choose to share pictures of the gift card numbers, and still maintain the physical card, scammers are likely to immediately take all funds off the cards.  It is difficult to get your money back if you send a wire, even if you don’t get what you think you’re paying for.  Scammers are adept at manipulatating people into using these payment methods to their advantage.
  • Be leery of free, or heavily discounted, pets. Additional fees for shipping, specialized crates, insurance, or paperwork should also sound some alarms.
  • When you decline to pay additional fees, it is common for scammers to attempt to convince you they will turn you into authorities for animal negligent or abandonment. 
  • Inconsistent communication – often times, phone numbers are masked or email addresses will randomly change.  Scammers will attempt to use similar, but not the same email, as listed on another site and may have an impressive story to explain why. 
  • Do your homework.  Confirm, with trustworthy outside sources, that the information being presented to you is accurate.
  • Search online for the same image of the pet – cute pictures are hard to resist and often times stock photos or popular videos are copied and used.


In additional to your local and reputable rescue leagues or shelters, the Humane Society of the United States is a great resource: 


Here are some other sources you might explore if your new furry friend seems like fraud: