VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - The Ventura County Sheriff's Office released a warning to residents to always be cautious when making a purchase or conducting business deals online.
Deputies have seen a recent uptick in scams involving home rentals as well as the online purchase of puppies or kittens.
The sheriff's office said oftentimes scammers will request payment or deposits up front and promise to deliver what you're hoping to purchase. They will then request additional payments for shipping or other types of fees, often promising to refund the money at a future date.
The victim of these scams is then left waiting for a pet or set of keys that never come.
The sheriff's office released the following 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.
Of course, not every online pet sale or rental is a scam.
Residents can practice some of the following tactics to make sure you are not about to become a scam 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.
Deputies advise the public to always remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Never rush into a good deal and always take a few extra steps to save yourself from potential heartache.