Holiday warning: Don’t pay to ship your pets through these bogus sites!

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Holiday warning: Don’t pay to ship your pets through these bogus sites!
Image Credit: DeltaPetTransit
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If you’re going to fly a furry friend with you during the holidays, be sure you’re not falling to prey to scammers out there who have a bull’s-eye on your money!

RELATED: Girl gets pet hamster after her letter to Petco ends up at power company Pepco

Pet-shipping scam sites abound

Delta Air Lines is filing a lawsuit against a fake pet-shipping website and others like it that use the carrier’s logo and airplane imagery to defraud unsuspecting victims out of money, according to an Associated Press report.

In fact, after months of investigation, Delta believes there are two layers of scamming going on here with sites like DeltaPetTransit and DeltaPetAirways.

For starters, these guys trick you into thinking you’re dealing with the official airline to fly a pet on an airplane. They can take your money and never deliver the service as promised.

But that’s not all they’re not delivering!

A second wrinkle is that sites like this may also advertise animals for sale with the promise that they’ll deliver them to you from far-flung breeders.

If you fall for it, you know what happens next: They take your money, but they never deliver you a new dog!

Unfortunately, there’s also a reload angle to this second flavor of scam.

Delta further alleges that even after you pay once for a “non-existent dog” to be delivered to your doorstep, the scammers still try to wring more money out of you. It’s usually for “‘mandatory’ insurance, vaccines, permits, and other ‘required fees,'” in subsequent scam attempts.

So there you have have it: With either variation of this ruse, they get your money and provide no shipping services or dogs for sale.

The Associated Press reports Google and other Internet companies have been subpoenaed as Delta tries to find out who is behind these sites so they can name them as defendants in the lawsuit.

One of the shadowy players may in fact be located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That’s where grocery store surveillance video picked up an unidentified man trying to get a Western Union wire payment that was sent through by a Delta investigator as bait.

How can you protect yourself?

Two ways, actually.

Know the site

First, whenever you’re thinking about flying a pet on a particular airline, make sure you go to that airline’s homepage by typing it into your browser (Delta.com, United.com, etc.)

Then once you’re at what you know to be a safe destination, search for “pet travel” to land on the correct page that details the airline’s animal travel policy.

Here’s a list of a few safe links to get you started:

You’ll easily be able to learn about the cost of flying a pet and how to make a legit reservation!

Beware of weirdo sites

Second, you should probably be wary of sites that seem to have a lot of spelling/grammatical errors on them, or a lot of really weird text that just doesn’t seem to make sense.

Case in point: If you ever see a business that’s supposed to be legitimate hit you with mumbo-jumbo like below, you’re probably best off navigating away from that site!

This is a screen shot of DeltaPetTransit’s About Us page.

RELATED: This simple key ring tag can help pet owners overcome a major fear

How to fly smarter and protect your valuables

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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