Hyderabad: The times are dark, and who would say no to the idea of a cute little pet to cheer up the home. Most wouldn’t, and cyber crooks certainly don’t want you to say no, which is why they are flashing advertisements of immensely huggable Siberian Husky, Maltese or Pug pups on social media.
Exploiting the rise in people getting pets due to pandemic-induced loneliness or demand from children who have been inside homes for too long, criminals are posting adverts on social media, online marketplaces and pet-selling platforms. According to law enforcement agencies, victims are asked to pay a deposit without seeing the pet, with the fraudsters using ‘restrictions caused by the pandemic’ as reason why they cannot see the animal.
Once payment is done, more money is requested to cover additional costs like insurance, vaccinations and even home delivery. And then, they disappear.
Late last year, a city student lost Rs 3 lakh after a ‘Siberian Husky up for adoption’ advert on social media. The ‘seller’ even cited Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules to convince him into paying different charges.
The scam has been around before the pandemic too, with former Union Minister Salman Kurshid being cheated after he tried to buy two Maltese pups online at a ‘discounted’ price. He ended up paying about Rs 60,000 to one Tonny Wallace, who even introduced the Minister to a pet travel agency called ‘Pacific Pet Relocators’. No puppy came and Wallace vanished.
In UK, national cybercrime agency Action Fraud has now cautioned animal lovers to take extra care when buying a pet online, with figures saying over 2.5 million pounds were lost through fake pet adverts in 2020-21! The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association too has cautioned pet lovers.
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