(WSYR) Scammers know few things pull at a person’s heartstrings like a puppy, and when buyers go online, they’re likely to run into a scam.
In the last three years, the Better Business Bureau received nearly 16,000 complaints about supposed “businesses” selling puppies and other pets.
Here’s how it works: sometimes online scammers claim to be breeders or pet sellers. Other times, they pretend to be a distraught pet owner who must find a new home for their dog.
Then, the “seller” promises your pet will be shipped right away, but scammers are sneaky. They sometimes say the airline requires a specific pet crate or costly pet insurance, all of which need to be paid in advance.
They then promise they’ll refund the unexpected costs, but in many cases, neither the pet nor the refund makes it to your door.
Here are some ways to make sure you don’t fall victim:
- Do your research! If the same picture of the pet you’re eyeing pops up on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud.
- Never send money through Western Union or MoneyGram. Once the money is wired, it’s gone for good. The same goes for pre-paid debit cards or gift cards.
- Look for prices of the breed you’re looking to adopt. If someone advertises a purebred for free or deeply discounted, that’s a red flag!
- The best way to avoid a puppy scam is to inspect the pet yourself. If possible, arrange to meet with the seller in person. Most legitimate breeders will want to check you out as well.
If you’ve been a victim of a puppy scam, you can report it to your local police department or contact the Better Business Bureau.