Online adoption hub Pets4Homes clamps down on fraudulent sellers

The website Pets4Homes has decided to clamp down on unscrupulous breeders and fraudsters who use the Pets4Homes website as a portal through which they sell puppies imported illegally or bred under cruel conditions and then sold through the site despite being sick or dying. In short, Pets4Homes want to stop criminals using their website to sell sick animals, particularly puppies which are imported illegally.

Cawley travelling family were engaged in fraudulent practices in conning customers
Cawley travelling family were engaged in fraudulent practices in conning customers. Photo: SWNS

Pets4Homes has employed digital forensic experts in collaboration with the charity Animal Protection Services to secure 85 prosecutions with 35 cases pending decisions. They've used cyber analysts to block 40,000 adverts in five months on the website. A significant percentage of these adverts were created by gangs shipping dogs from abroad and/or using litters from stolen pedigree dogs kept under very poor conditions.

On one occasion 'travellers' in the UK made at least £300,000 by selling sick and dying cocker spaniels, schnauzers, Chihuahuas, springer spaniels, Labradors, beagles and poodles. Six members of the Cawley family, from Milton Keynes, together with seven accomplices were convicted.

These enterprises have been fuelled by market forces because of the Covid pandemic which encouraged people who were socially distance to impulsively adopt dogs forcing up prices resulting in criminal activity to take advantage of the market.

The administrators of Pets4Homes decided to take action because of a series of abuses in recent months. Their software now prevents fraudsters from selling animals when they do not possess those animals.

They check the IP addresses of those who are advertising in order to establish the veracity of the advert. They want to make sure that people who are selling these dogs live in the country and at the address listed on their account. Also, pictures of puppies for sale are scanned by software to show that they haven't been duplicated.

Another person who was prosecuted is John Lawrence from Liverpool. He sold two German Shephard puppies who died shortly after being purchased. He was convicted of knowingly selling seriously ill puppies. He was jailed for eight weeks.

Further, Animal Protection Services brought a private prosecution against Leonard Greenough from Salisbury. They used information supplied by Pets4Homes. He was selling poppies worth about £16,700 without a licence.

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