Few things pull at a person’s heartstrings like an adorable puppy or cuddly kitten. Scammers know this. And BBB Scam Tracker has seen an increase in people losing money to puppy scams this holiday season.
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How the Puppy Scams Work
You find an adorable puppy on a website or online ad. Sometimes, scammers claim they are breeders. Other times, they act like a distraught pet owner who must find a new home for their beloved dog or cat. Either way, once you’ve fallen in love with the pictures and videos, they ask you to wire money to make the purchase.
Once the purchase is complete, the “owner” promises your dog or cat will be shipped right away. But there are always “unexpected” problems: The airline requires a specific pet crate, you must pay for an expensive vet visit, or the shipper requires costly pet insurance. With each problem, scammers promise that they will refund the unexpected costs as soon as your pet is delivered. Unfortunately, your dog or cat never existed in the first place.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Pet Scams
• Never wire money to people or companies you don’t know and trust. Once the money is wired, it is gone for good. The same goes for pre-paid debit cards or gift cards.
• See the pet in person before making a purchase. This is the only sure way of making sure your cat or dog exists and will be delivered to you without fail.
• Research prices. Make sure you know roughly how much the specific breed you are interested in costs. If someone is offering a purebred puppy at an extremely reduced price, chances are it’s a fraud.
For More Information
If you’ve been a victim of a puppy scam, report it on the BBB Scam Tracker to help others avoid a similar fate.
Ellen is a busy mom of a 21-year-old son and 25-year-old daughter. She owns 5 blogs and is addicted to social media. She has been running a small pet sitting business in southern Vermont for the past three years. She’s a proud Mommy to 2 shelter kitties. If you’d like to work together, email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat.