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Beware of Online Pet Scams

Beware of Online Pet Scams

December 28, 2015

The Better Business Bureau has received several calls in the past few months from consumers that have sent money for a new pet, but end up pet-less, with only more reasons to send more money.

According to reports there have been approximately 30 complaints in 2015 from consumers stating they were involved in an online pet scam.

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The average amount reported lost was roughly $1,200.

How the scam works

You answer an online ad for a cute little puppy in your area. You receive an email back, possibly with pictures and a reason why the puppy is no longer near you and will need to be shipped. A delivery service name is given to you and correspondence will now be with this company. First you will be told the puppy needs a specific crate, so you need to wire money or use a money order. If you send this money, then the puppy may need special insurance or has been quarantined and needs vaccines. The scammers assure you this money is refundable and is just needed to get the puppy to you safely. If you question the scammers, they threaten to turn you in for animal abuse. In the end, you will have many reasons to send more money, but no cute new puppy.

How to avoid a pet scam

Research breeders and sellers carefully. Check complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau or Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and review feedback from other consumers. Be skeptical if you find no information; some scam artists change names regularly to trick consumers. If at all possible, work with a local organization with a good reputation.

n Conduct an online image search of the puppy’s photo to see where else the picture might be posted on the internet. You can search “how to search by image” for instructions on how to conduct that search. If the same picture shows up in multiple places, it may be an indication that it is a scam.

n See the puppy in person before turning over any funds. If the seller will allow it, take the puppy to an independent veterinarian for a health exam.

n Be suspicious of any breeders who only accept wire transfers, prepaid credit cards, or money orders. These are often preferred methods of payment for scam artists because it is difficult to track the funds.

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For more information

Check out to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam, read tips, follow on social media and more.

The Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau offers tips and advice for Stark County consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.

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Original article published on Photo credit: Dog Breeders Gallery