Looking for a pet? Be aware of online scams advertising pets that don’t exist

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More Eye on Scams

If you are looking for a pet to add to your family, be on the lookout for scams.     

As more consumers turn to the internet to find new pets, more scams are popping up online. 

Scammers are targeting consumers looking to buy pets by telling a convincing, heart-tugging backstory about the pet, but what you may not know is that the pet never existed. 

Jenn Love, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, says, “So what they’re doing is that you’ll find a website or an organization that’s giving away puppies or rehoming puppies. So you’ll go on the website and they’ll usually have some heartfelt story.” 

Along with the heart-tugging background story of the pet, the scammer will also threaten to euthanize it if payment is not received. 

Love says, “They don’t ask for an adoption fee, but they do ask for a “shipping” fee. And so you’ll pay the shipping fee and the puppy will “ship” and then they’ll demand another shipping fee or they’ll say that there was an emergency vet visit, then they’ll ask for more money and if you refuse to send it, they’ll warn you that the puppy might have to be euthanized.” 

The scammers take it even further by offering consumers that you’ll get your money back when your pet “ships,” but in reality… it never existed.     

“Often they’ll even say if you pay it, we’ll reimburse you when you get your dog and the dog will never show up,” Love explains. 

One way to look out for online puppy scammers is to make sure advertisements for purebred dogs are priced correctly and not discounted. 

“When you have a purebred dog that doesn’t have an adoption fee, that’s a clear sign it’s a fraud,” adds Love. “You always want to research to make sure how much this breed normally costs.” 

If in doubt, the Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters and has recommendations for reputable breeders. 

“You can always contact your local Humane Society. They have great tips and will actually point you in the right direction for a better breeder,” says Love. 

Here are some tips the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana offers to protect yourself: 

  • Be cautious.  Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. 

  • Don’t use money orders. 

  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. 

  • Contact the Humane Society for tips on finding local shelters and reputable breeders. 

Although this scam mostly involves dogs, it can also include cats and other pets. 

If you have a scam you’d like me to report, email me at Smasters@klfy.com. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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