Classified Ad Scams Target Pet Lovers

I love my dog, 60lb German Shepherd. Small for a shepherd, but she was the runt. I’ve always rooted for the underdog. The underdog has more heart, more passion and often tries harder.

Anyway people love their pets, which is why it’s a multi-billion dollar a year business. Scammers know this too and they prey upon classified ad users who are seeking their next pet.

This story caught my eye, “A warning for internet users: an online scam targeting pet-lovers is circulating the web, and it could cost you more than a new pet.”

An ad was posted to a local online classifieds website by a man who claimed he was living in Florida. The seller said he had recently moved to Miami, and couldn’t keep his dog due to his new living conditions. He was willing to give the Labrador Retriever puppy named Dely away for the cost of shipping, which was $220.

The couple sent a delivery service $220 by way of Western Union. The delivery service told the family to send another $820 or risk losing the dog. That’s when the couple realized they’d been scammed. They told the person on the other end of the phone the deal was off. But the caller kept calling, becoming more aggressive each time.

“He kept calling me saying the dogs here,” said the victim. “Making me feel like this poor dog is sitting somewhere unattended.” When the caller realized the couple wasn’t sending the extra $820 he threatened to turn them into authorities and charge them with animal abandonment. Officials determined the entire thing was a scam.

Scammers will say and do anything to get a person to part with their money. At first they had a sob story that sounded like a legitimate issue, new housing that wouldn’t allow a pet. When posted as a classified ad, it looks legitimate. Then they involved a “shipping company” that was a front for the scam. Once the victims were asked to send a money transfer, this should have been a red-flag.

It’s usually best to do business like this locally.

Never automatically trust anyone over the phone or via the internet.

Unless the business is one that is well established online, don’t ever send money that you can’t get back.

Many classified sites stop fraudulent ads from being published in the first place by incorporating device-based intelligence that helps them assess risk upfront. Fraud prevention technology offered by iovation Inc. not only helps these sites identify repeat offenders coming in under multiple fake identities, but they also detect when scammers are attempting to place multiple fraudulent ads using a variety of computers, tablets and smartphones to do so.  This greatly helps rid these sites of undesirables and protect their valued members.

Fraud analysts review thousands of transactions per month on auction sites. They watch for emerging schemes such as the popular “advanced fee schemes” where bad actors posing as sellers require down payments to be wired to them, and “text message fraud” where the legitimate sellers receive text messages that starts the process of being scammed.

Online businesses can see what kind of fraud records are associated with a device touching their website before accepting a new account registration, by tapping into iovation’s cybercrime intelligence network with over 10 million fraud events and more than 1 billion devices.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discussesidentity theft  in front of the National Speakers Association. (Disclosures)

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