Fraudsters targeting cat lovers online

By Zainul Dawood Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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DURBAN - SCAMMERS have defrauded two Durban North residents who had expressed interest in purchasing cats online.

Cats of Durban spokesperson Niki Moore said this kind of scam was not really about the animal.

She said online fraudsters could use any object to try to extract money from people.

Moore said fraudsters were aware that people can be emotional about animals, particularly cats and kittens. Fraudsters would then feed on that emotion in the hope that the buyer was vulnerable.

Moore said fraudsters would upload photographs of rare or beautiful cats from the internet, and use them as an attractive object to lure the victim.

Moore warned that normal caution should apply in any online transaction.

“Check out the credentials of the seller and the buying platform, insist on proper paperwork such as certificates and invoices, try to speak personally to the seller and ask questions about the animal.

“If there is the remotest feeling that something is wrong or something does not add up, check some more. It is often useful to involve a third party who is not emotional about the animal, such as a friend or relative, to find out if they have any doubts about the credibility of the seller,” Moore advised.

Always be suspicious if a sale was urgent, and the seller tried to put pres - sure on the buyer to pay the money over without doing any background checks or investigation.

“It sometimes happens that a person is trying to buy a pet to replace a beloved pet that has recently died. Fraudsters will take advantage of grief and shock to put pressure on the buyer to part with their money,” said Moore.

She said defrauding people by selling non-existent animals online was no different to selling any other non-existent goods online. It was simply something that the fraudster used to lure a victim.

Durban & Coast SPCA marketing manager Tanya Fleischer encouraged the public, who were looking to add a new pet to their home, to adopt them from their nearest shelter and not support breeders.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said Durban North SAPS were investigating charges of fraud after two victims were defrauded of their money by people who were selling pets online.

The matter was still under investigation.

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