A warning has been issued to animal lovers who are being scammed by phoney offers of pets for sale.

New figures show more than £2.5 million has been lost to criminals through fake pet adverts in the past year alone.

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, said data revealed that £2,638,323 had been lost by prospective pet owners in the 2020/21 financial year, after they put down deposits for pets they saw advertised online.

That’s an increase of over 20 per cent compared with the previous financial year.

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It says there has been a rise in bogus ads for pets on social media, online marketplaces and specific pet-selling platforms.

This is because crooks have been cashing in on the rise in the number of people getting pets during the national lockdowns.

Unsuspecting victims will be asked to pay a deposit for the pet without seeing it in person…

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