Cambridge (September 9, 2020) – The Waterloo police arrested a Cambridge woman and charged her with several fraud-related offenses in connection with an alleged online puppy scam. She is accused of defrauding ten victims, who were responding to fake online advertisements selling French bulldog puppies in April of this year. The victims reported that they never received their puppy after they transferred the agreed selling price. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) informed that puppy scam reports skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Waterloo police arrested a Cambridge woman as a result of an online puppy scam investigation, according to a police press release. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) announced that pet scams tripled compared to previous years, which represents the biggest increase in online shopping fraud.
Ten victims in Waterloo online puppy scam
The police received reports from ten victims between April 3 and April 5 of this year, who responded to online advertisements selling French bulldog puppies. Most of the victims stated that they communicated with the phony seller over the phone and received images of the puppies.
The police said that the victims were asked to send money via e-transfer in order to confirm the sale of the puppy. When the buyer requested to see the puppies in person, the seller allegedly stated that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing restrictions, no viewings were allowed. ‘The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has given scammers the idea to ask for money up front, or to make excuses as to why buyers can’t see the pet in person– before heartbroken, would-be pet owners figure out they have been conned,’ explained the BBB in a release about puppy scams.
The ten victims of the Waterloo online puppy scam transferred the money, however, never received their puppy according to the police.
Cambridge woman arrested
As a result of the investigation, the police executed a search warrant at a Cambridge residence. Thereafter, they arrested the 24-year-old woman. She has been charged with several fraud-related offenses. The police did not reveal her name in the press release.
The BBB informed that during the COVID-19 pandemic the puppy scam reports skyrocketed. The number of pet scam reports tripled compared to previous years and represents the biggest increase in online shopping fraud. However, the BBB suspects that the actual numbers of pet fraud may be much higher than reported, because many victims either choose not to file complaints or do not know where to turn for help.
Safety tips, to prevent becoming a victim
The police and the BBB are warning the public to be vigilant when seeking to buy a new pet online. The BBB stated that at least 80% of sponsored advertising links that appear in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent.
Red flags for bogus pet advertisements include low prices for purebred puppies, pressure to complete the purchase quickly, and unsecured payment methods such as Bitcoin, gift cards, or Western Union. The BBB advises people who are looking for a new purebred canine online to check the Canadian Kennel Club to confirm if the breeder is listed. Furthermore, buyers should check if the pictures that are used in the advertisement are authentic by conducting a Google Images search.
The police recommended confirming the legitimacy of the ad before sending any money and not to send funds without first seeing the animal. Buyers should make purchases from known breeders or suppliers, or consider to adopt a pet through rescue centers or local shelters.