The New Hampshire Attorney General's office says online scammers are targeting people who are looking to add a four-legged family member.
The scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic as more people stay home and turn to the internet for a new pet, authorities announced Wednesday.
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Senior Assistant Attorney General Brandon Garod says at least a half a dozen Granite Staters have fallen victim since the beginning of summer, paying $1,000 or more for a pet they never received.
"The uptick and consistency with which we are getting reports is probably in direct correlation to people being quarantined in response to COVID-19 and wanting to be able to adopt a friend," Garod said.
The Attorney General's Office says people are going online, finding a picture of the animal they want and then sending money through instant transfer sites for that animal to be shipped.
Garod says the scammers are pros.
"They have several pictures of adorable cats, kittens, and puppies. "It's well written, it appears legitimate," Garod said about these scam websites. "They'll give you an address. It's not a real address, but they'll give you an address for the business."
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Lisa Dennison, who is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire SPCA, says demand is through the roof, but because of safety precautions amid the pandemic, most reputable agencies don't have as much supply.
"We've seen a decline in transports and therefore a decline in availability in some ways," Dennison explained. "And people are just clamoring to adopt."
But Dennison says going online and making an impulse decision is not the answer.
"First of all, take a deep breath," she said. "Instant gratification is not always a reality, especially when you're looking for a companion animal."
Authorities say consumers need to do their homework. Always try to connect over the phone with the breeder, try to meet them and your potential new pet in person, and never send money through an instant transfer site, the SPCA suggests.
Garod says if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.