Look out for red flags in online puppy purchasing scams

 Look out for red flags in online puppy purchasing scams
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many may be looking to expand their family in 2019 by adding a new four-legged fur baby to their household, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says it’s important not to get too caught up in the excitement. While the thought of a new addition, especially a precious pup or cuddly kitten, is exciting, the BBB urges consumers to remember the proper steps to protect themselves from scammers.

In a release first issued in Dec. 2018, the Better Business Bureau says its Scam Tracker found an increase in reports of consumers losing money to pet scams during the 2018 holiday season.

Pet scams usually involve a hopeful, prospective owner conversing with someone claiming to be a breeder or distraught pet owner who is urgently searching for a new home for their beloved dog or cat. Prospective owners are lured in for a conversation with the scammer via social media websites and online ads, where they fall in love with pictures and videos of the pet.

Once the scammer learns the prospective owner is interested, they encourage a purchase be made by wiring money over the internet. Once the purchase is complete, the “owner” promises the dog or cat will be shipped right away. However, there are always “unexpected” problems: The airline requires a specific pet crate, there is an urgent and expensive vet visit that needs to be paid for before the change in ownership, or the shipper requires costly pet insurance. With each problem, scammers promise that they will refund the unexpected costs as soon as the pet is delivered.

The BBB says it’s likely the pet never existed in the first place.

To combat pet scams the BBB encourages prospective owners exhibit caution when purchasing pets by taking the following actions:

  • Never wire money to people or companies you don’t know and trust. Once 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 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. 

Victims of a pet scam are asked to report the incident on the BBB Scam Tracker to help others avoid a similar fate. To learn more about how to protect yourself from pet scams, see BBB.org/PuppyScam.

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