That “Quarantine Puppy” Real? Puppy scam reports skyrocket during COVID-19 pandemic

Eye on Scams

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Puppy scam reports have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, scammers are taking advantage of people when it comes to puppies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given scammers the idea to ask for money up front, or to make excuses as to why buyers can’t see the pet in person– before would-be pet owners figure out they have been conned.
“We did a pretty in-depth study recently on puppy scams, and what we found out is that close to 80% of the advertisements that you see online to purchase a puppy or some type of animal, dog or cat, is fraudulent and is put on there by a scammer attempting to gain funds from you,” Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said.

New data from the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker shows puppy scams have spiked since COVID-19 in the U.S. with more reports about fraudulent pet websites in April than in the first three months of the year combined.

“The way this scam typically works is, of course, they pick a picture of a cute puppy or a litter of puppies and say that one of these can be yours and typically they try to target you from out of town to where you can’t actually make contact with the person in person or see the puppy or the animal in person.”
But that’s not it. Victims are often told they need to send money for climate-controlled crates for the puppies and even, a non-existent COVID-19 vaccine.

“What they do is they need an upfront deposit to go ahead and send the puppy to you, and the reports that we’ve received is that throughout the next couple of weeks as they’re trying to get the puppy sent to you through the airlines or whatever methods they’re using, more and more charges keep occurring that they want to keep charging you for,” explained Babin.

Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau on how to avoid puppy scams:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. If that isn’t possible, conduct an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering.
  • Avoid wiring money, or using a cash app or gift card. These payment methods offer no recourse and no way to get your money back if you are the victim of a fraud.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. 
  • Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter. Especially during this time of quarantine, many shelters are looking for fosters to help relieve the animal’s stress and overcrowding at their facilities.

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