The South Simcoe Police Service is reminding citizens to be wary of buying animals online after we received a recent report of a fraud involving the purchase a Maine Coon kitten.

What typically happens is a buyer goes online to a website that appears legitimate. The would-be pet owner sends initial payment expecting to receive a pet that never arrives. In many cases, the price escalates as the fraudster asks for transport fees, custom fees or medical costs before the pet is delivered.

South Simcoe Police Service is offering these tips for people shopping for animals online:

  • See the pet in person before buying
  • Research the seller and website to see if they are the subject of complaints
  • If the URL is different than the actual website name, it’s probably fake
  • Think twice if the asking price is very low for the breed
  • If the sellers request money in US dollars, it’s probably a scam  
  • Do a reverse-image search on the animal image to see if it is linked to scams and other websites
  • Contact local reputable breeders and shelters
  • Adopt locally instead of online

The public is encouraged to report these incidents to police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Check the fraud centre website for recent scams and further resources here.