POLICE are urging residents to buy from reputable sites when shopping for pets this Christmas after more than £2million was lost to scams last year.
In the last financial year, more than £2.5 million was lost to criminals through fake pet adverts.
To capitalise on the rise in demand for pets during the pandemic, criminals have turned to posting fake pet adverts on social media.
Unsuspecting victims will be asked to pay a deposit for the animal without seeing it first, and then will be stung with further 'fees' to cover costs such as insurance and vet bills.
While a puppy or kitten may be at the top of your list this year – South Yorkshire Police has shared guidance about how to stay safe from pet scams scams.
The first tip is to avoid bank transfers.
Most legitimate businesses will only accept payment through card of PayPal. Think twice before giving out your bank details and make sure to check your account for any suspicious activity.
The second tip is to do your research – if you're buying from a website or person you don't know, have a look at the seller's feedback history or reviews from Google.
Also trust your instincts. Ask for a video call if you are unable to see the pet in person, if you have any suspicions, do not pay any money until you are certain the transaction is genuine.
Finally, if you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.