Pet Buying Classifieds: Spotting Scams

There are various options available to you for buying a pet, for example classified ads on the Internet. Unfortunately, not only reputable breeders, decent private individuals and recognized animal shelters offer dogs, cats, birds and small animals online, but also scammers. The following tips will show you how to spot potential fraud.

Anyone who discovers such cute puppies in classified ads would like to buy them immediately.  But is the offer serious?  – Shutterstock / Okssi

Anyone who discovers such cute puppies in classified ads would like to buy them immediately. But is the offer serious? – Shutterstock / Okssi

The basic rule is: never pay in advance without seeing the animal from the classified ads and getting an idea of ​​the housing conditions on site. When buying a pet, take your time to compare several offers, find out more about the pet you want and get in touch with potential sellers.

Special offers in classifieds as a red flag when buying a pet

You can recognize fraud, for example, by the fact that the animals are offered at an unusually low price. Serious breeding is expensive, which means that pedigree cats, dogs and other pets have their price. First, look around to see what the average cost of your dream pet is, and be wary of much cheaper “bargains”. There are several possibilities why the price is so low:
● The pet does not exist
● The animal is stolen
● The pet comes from mass breeding
● The animal is sick
● The previous owner wants to get rid of it quickly

The last point may well be legitimate. If you otherwise have a good impression of the classified ad, get in touch and see for yourself. Listen to your gut feeling, maybe everything is fine with the offer. If, after contacting us, you are asked to pay in advance for certain fees, transport costs and the like, or if the provider refuses a personal home visit, the answer is: hands off!

No knowledge about the species offered? Caution!

You can also spot fraud if the classifieds make it clear that the vendors don’t know anything about the animals. This is the case, for example, if you are too young to be handed in. Puppies should be separated from their families at the earliest at nine weeks and kittens ideally at twelve weeks and placed in a new home. If the ad is generalizations and not specific to the breed or species, it’s best to call the vendors and ask a few specific questions – that way you can check their expertise.

Only buy pedigree cats from reputable breeders - Shutterstock / npetrov

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Recognizing fraud: misspellings and co. in classified ads

Furthermore, you should be skeptical if the classified ads are full of spelling mistakes or are formulated in German that is difficult to understand. These are often automatic translations that have not been checked by a native speaker. Above all, if the location for the offer is supposed to be in the German-speaking area, you can recognize fraud. Behind it are, for example, unscrupulous breeders or the dog mafia who sell puppies from the trunk of their car at a gas station or a freeway parking lot.

The best thing to do is to check whether there might be several of the same classified ads, but they indicate different locations – a sure sign of fraud. In case of doubt, however, the same applies here: call the dealer and check what your intuition tells you. If you have the slightest uneasy feeling, it’s better to keep looking around.

Check information in classified ads before buying a pet

Unfortunately, it can happen that the ad appears serious and honest at first glance, but scammers are behind it. So take a closer look and check the information for consistency. Does the phone number match the location? Is a landline number given at all? If you call the providers, make sure that they do not try to put pressure on you and persuade you to pay in advance – usually via a cash transfer service. If you feel compelled by particularly sentimental stories or if the information seems abstruse, don’t let them knock you down. Emotional blackmail is a popular scam used by scammers when buying pets.

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