The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind residents to be cautious when making purchases or conducting business deals online.
We have seen a recent increase in scams involving home rentals as well as scams involving the online purchase of puppies or kittens. The scammers will request payment or deposits up front and promise delivery. They will then request additional payments for shipping or other types of fees, often with the promise that the money will be refunded at a future date. The victim is left waiting for a pet or set of keys that never come.
These are some of the common indicators of a scam:
- The person you are in communication with will only talk through email or text.
- You are asked to send money, through an application such as Zelle or Venmo, to an account with an email address different than the one you have been communicating with.
- There is some sort of urgency or deal that can only happen if you send the money immediately.
This is not to say that every online pet sale or rental is a scam. There are a few ways to make sure that you are not about to become a victim:
- Ask the person to Facetime you with the puppy or kitten you are looking to purchase.
- Conduct a Google Image search of the pictures in the advertisement to see where else on the internet those images appear.
- Contact a separate realtor to confirm the property is available for rent.
- If the person you are in contact with claims to be with a realty agency, contact the agency to confirm the person’s employment with them.
- If you live close to the property, drive by to see if it appears to actually be for rent.
Always remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not be in a rush for what seems like a good deal. Taking these few extra steps could save you a lot of heartache in the long run.