The pandemic has led to an enormous spike in pet scams
But when the kittens never showed up, she says she knew something was wrong.
And now, she’s out $2,500.
The 62-year-old Chappaqua, New York, resident is just one of thousands of victims to pet scams.
While pet scams have been on the rise since 2017, this year has led to an enormous spike.
In the past 12 months, victims are projected to have lost more than $3 million. That’s more than six times greater than the total losses reported just three years ago.
“I think I was just so desperate to get these animals, because it’s a lonely time,” Barg told CNN. “It’s only going to get lonelier and darker this winter, because we’re all just stuck in the house.”
How they were cheated
Like others, Barg and her husband, Steven, planned on getting a pet to deal with the isolation and loneliness people have felt during the quarantine.
After her previous cat — an 18-year-old Himalayan — passed away, the couple decided to purchase two Siberian kittens from a breeder they found online.
Barg says she sent the money in October.
When the kittens never showed, she searched online for more information about the company.
That’s when she found a Facebook group with other people who said they were scammed by the same breeder.
She decided to file a report with the Better Business Bureau.
A surge in adoptions … and scams
Sarah Brasky, the founder and executive director of Foster Dogs Inc. told CNN in March that the demand was “totally unprecedented.”
“Everybody who has ever wanted to foster or adopt is suddenly much more available,” Brasky said
And as shelters emptied out, would-be pet parents started looking online.
“People currently shopping for pets online are prime targets for fraudsters trolling the internet looking for want-to-be pet owners.”
What to look for when looking for a pet
The bulk of these crimes go unpunished.
Even after contacting the police, and her bank, Barg says she hasn’t seen any of the money returned to her account.
She has something else to look forward to
Barg has something else to look forward to.
She and her husband located another Siberian cat breeder who lives closer to them.
They plan on driving up to Connecticut to pick up their two cats in February.
And they haven’t been asked to send any money upfront.