Fraudsters on Meta-owned platforms are increasingly taking advantage of British animal lovers, new data shows.
According to research from Lloyds, pet scams were up 24 per cent compared to last year with the average victim losing £307.
Dogs were the most common pet used to scam unsuspecting Brits out of their money with Yorkshire Terriers and Blue Staffordshire Bull Terriers most frequently involved.
Scams relating to horses and horse equipment – including horse boxes and bridles – leaped 42 per cent while bird scams fell 20 per cent.
Across all species, over half of these scams start on Facebook and Instagram, Lloyds said.
Scammers often post adverts for pets that don’t exist on Facebook and Instagram, Lloyds noted, keeping a close eye on which breeds are in high demand.
They then demand prepayment from customers interested in viewing the illusionary animal before pulling down the advert.
Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds said: “Owning a pet is one of the great joys of life, becoming true companions and part of our families. Fraudsters know this and are ready to take advantage, preying on people’s desire to add another family member to the home.
“Social media companies are making money from these criminals, and those searching for a pet are left heartbroken twice. Once by the loss of hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds. But also by the realisation and disappointment that a pet won’t be joining the family after all,” Ziegler continued.
Banks have been hitting out at big tech firms for their lack of action on fraud even though around 78 per cent of authorised push payment (APP) fraud started online last year.
Meta in particular has been targeted by the banks, with both TSB and Lloyds calling out what proportion of APP fraud originates on specifically Meta-owned platforms. In TSB’s case, the figure was 80 per cent while with Lloyds it was around two-thirds.
Despite the high level of fraud originating online, plans to force big tech firms to reimburse fraud victims were watered down earlier this year. At the same time, the payment regulator is ploughing ahead with plans to put banks on the hook for reimbursement.
A Meta spokesperson said: “We don’t allow the sale of animals on our platforms and we remove this content when we become aware of it. This is an industry-wide issue and scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud people in a range of ways including email, SMS and offline.
“We don’t want anyone to fall victim to these criminals which is why our platforms already have systems to block scams, financial services advertisers now have to be FCA authorised to target UK users and we run consumer awareness campaigns on how to spot fraudulent behaviour,” they continued.