Thursday, February 11, 2021

Beware deposit scams when buying kittens during Covid pandemic

I'm going to write a series of posts about the dangers of buying a kitten or cat during the Covid pandemic. The news media have spoken a lot more about purchasing dogs. These are always purebreds. There has been a surge in dog adoptions but there's also been an increase in cat adoptions for the same reason: companionship during long lockdowns. And people have almost nothing to do if on furlough so it is a good opportunity to get to know your new companion animal.

Watch out for deposit scams when buying kittens and cats online during Covid pandemic
Watch out for deposit scams when buying kittens and cats online during Covid pandemic. Photo: Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay 

But against this background the scammers have moved in big time to take advantage of very keen purchasers some of whom are gullible to be quite frank. For example, in today's Times newspaper, Jenni Russell, one of their journalists, describes her struggles to try and purchase a dog. She tells us that there is a frenetic amount of activity to the point where she says that, "Entire litters, whether they were anonymous piglet-like newborns or six-week-old charmers, were being reserved by non-refundable deposits of up to £1,000 within five hours. So purchasers are buying dogs unseen and reserving that dog by pushing down £1,000. Sometimes they are giving away £1,000.

That money is going into the ether to a person they don't know for a dog they haven't seen and for a breeding establishment they have no knowledge of. It is extremely dangerous and this leads me to the topic of today's discussion which is deposit scams. Some of the people that Jenni referred to are going to be scanned and will no doubt lose their £1,000.

Siamese kitten. Pic in public domain. Siamese have a
high incidence of inherited diseases by the way.

Be careful before you buy. Always put the brakes on, pause and count to ten because there's no rush if you adopt a companion animal for the lifetime of that animal. This is a purchase that will last 15 to 20 years possibly. You can wait a week before you dive in. Actually you should never dive in under these circumstances.

Scammers sometimes send photographs or videos to persuade potential purchasers to make a deposit in advance. Can you trust them? Is this the cat or dog that you are going to purchase? Is this the mother of the kitten that you see in the video or photograph? You should see the mother with her kittens. You should actually be in the room with the mother and kittens but of course Covid has put a block on that.

Scammers might also ask for further funds to cover unforeseen costs such as vaccinations and pet insurance after you've already made an initial down payment. This might be another scam. I certainly wouldn't get sucked into paying that without some cast-iron evidence.

You put down your deposit and pay the extra money and then things go silent. The kittens are never provided and you can't contact the scammer because they have given false contact details which also means that they can't be traced. Over and out - you've lost your money and there's no going back.

If you are purchasing a purebred, pedigree cat, you should be better protected in my opinion because breeders are affiliated with the cat associations and they do take deposits to reserve after you have viewed kittens at around 8 to 9 weeks of age. Most breeders will keep the kittens in their home until 13-14 weeks of age until after their second vaccination. But some breeders are better than others and some purebred cats although very beautiful and charming may not be healthy. In fact some cat breeds carry inherited congenital conditions and some are predisposed to a long list of illnesses. You have to do your research.

But this lesson is about deposit scams. My basic rule in life is never to pay money upfront for anything except a house when the money goes into escrow. You pay money for something in a straightforward contract. That is not paying upfront. But putting down a deposit to reserve something is, I think extremely dangerous if it is done online without any hard evidence that what you're doing is sound and safe. During the Covid pandemic I would make a presumption that you are dealing with a scammer until they can prove otherwise. There are too many of them about.

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