BBB Warns Pet Lovers About Recent Puppy Scams
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is warning pet lovers to be on the look out of any suspicious puppy postings online. In recent weeks, the BBB has seen an uptick in phony websites designed to lure would-be pet owners in and collect sizable payments for pets which likely don’t exist in the first place.
According to a press release, the nonprofit organization has received several reports of the websites and confirmed that three are fake.
After corresponding with the ‘pet sellers’ – exclusively by email – they wired anywhere from $700 to $1,200 to claim their pets. However, these payments did not secure their pups; instead, it led to claims by the sellers that the pets were being held at the airport and additional transport, vaccination or insurance fees were due before their pets could be delivered. At this point in the process, most people realize something is amiss and they’ve been defrauded.
“What online scammers prey on is the enthusiasm of pet lovers,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota, in a statement. “They create authentic-looking websites, steal photos from legitimate pet sellers or breeders and then simply wait for victims to come to them.”
The fake pet sites have been identified as German Shepard Home, which claims to operate out of Duluth (but does not); Eco Pet Locator, which falsely claimed an address at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport; and West Star Golden Retriever or Westarspuppy.
The BBB suggests sticking with local or established breeders, shelters or pet stores. Prospective pet owners can also start your search by researching the track records of pet sellers at bbb.org.
To avoid online pet scams, BBB offers the following advice:
·Be deliberate; when you’re looking to buy a puppy, don’t just enter a type of breed into a search engine. Online scammers prey on people who look for pets this way.
·Watch out for requests to wire money. This is virtually always a sign you’re dealing with a scammer. Never wire money to someone you haven’t met in person.
·Beware of websites and online (or classified) ads with misspellings and/or grammatical errors. Many pet scams originate overseas, so scammers usually don’t have a good grasp of the English language. You should also be wary if the only form of communication with the seller is via email.
·Be leery of classified ads that promise cheap or free pets for adoption. These offers sound good, until the scammers tell you your pet is at the airport but you’ll have to pay unexpected fees to move forward with the adoption process. These fees continue to mount and people eventually realize these offers were not legitimate.
·Avoid situations where you’re asked to wire funds to unknown third-parties for shipping or transportation. These are often fraudulent entities working in tandem with the supposed pet seller.
In Minnesota, commercial breeders need to be licensed. Finally, no matter who you purchase a puppy from, be sure you have a written contract with terms, conditions and guarantees spelled out. If something about the transaction isn’t feeling right, pay attention to that feeling.