With the Christmas holidays approaching, one of the more popular gifts remains one you cannot wrap or put in a stocking — a cute and cuddly puppy.
Those who plan to use the internet to assist in the search for a furry friend should be aware, though, that even here, scammers are looking to steal your joy and — along with it — your money.
The BBB Scam Tracker recently identified reports of someone locally trying to purchase a pug puppy online, and spending around $700 to get the animal shipped to them. Eventually, the buyer was no longer able to get in touch with the breeder, and was out the money and the puppy.
It is a scam that is more common than you might think.
Nearly 1,000 reports of this type of fraud have been reported to the BBB. In fact, they recently issued a report estimating 80 percemt of sponsored advertisements seen online are fake.
Here is how it typically works:
A potential pet buyer searches online for a particular breed and comes across a picture of a cute puppy. Click on the link or picture, and you are taken to a site set where the supposed seller offers the puppy at a low price — plus shipping charges — as long as the money is wired ASAP.
Once payment is made, the scam often continues. The buyer receives additional messages that the animal is en route, but requires more money for medical insurance, a new crate or food.
To keep from becoming a victim, keep in mind the following:
- Do not buy a pet without seeing it in person. The most wise and safe course is to choose a pet at a home or facility you can visit in person.
- Cross check what you think you know online. Do an internet image search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you are more than likely dealing with a scam artist. You can also can do a search on the text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
- Never wire money to a stranger. Paying through a money order, Western Union or Moneygram means once lost, the money can likely never be recovered. Use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.
- Research breeds. Find the kind of animal you are interested in adopting, and if someone is advertising a purebred dog at a deeply discounted price, you are probably dealing with a fraudulent offer.
- Should you become a victim of this fraud, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or, in some cases, the Department of Homeland Security (if it was an international transaction). Links may be found HERE.
Want to know more?
Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (361) 852-4991.