NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Amid an unprecedented demand for furry friends during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people falling victim to online pet scams is also soaring.

Scammers are taking advantage of people stuck at home feeling lonely and isolated.

According to the Better Business Bureau the number of reported pet scams has more than doubled during the shutdown.

In the past 12 months, victims are estimated to have lost more than $3 million.

It's more than six times greater than the total losses reported three years ago and is triggering the BBB to issue a warning for people buying kittens and puppies from breeders online.

The BBB says by the end of November it had received nearly 4,000 scam reports, with many victims saying they sent money, but never got the pet they paid for.

Months into the pandemic many states experienced huge surges in animal adoptions, and with demand being so great in some shelters many people were forced to look for pets online.

So if you're looking to buy online, the BBB has three recommendations.

Number one: see the pet in-person before paying any money.

Two: use tactics like reverse image searches and compare prices.

And three: look for animal shelters online that still have fur babies up for adoption.

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