For years, the puppy scam has been conning thousands of dollars out of people’s pockets and Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is continuing to warn consumers that it is not going away anytime soon. The scam, where consumers pay for a future family pet and then don’t receive the animal, increased by 58 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“The puppy scam is one of the most prevalent cons we see here in North Carolina,” says Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB of Eastern NC. “Scammers play on the emotions by using photos of adorable animals they find off the internet to lure in consumers and take their money with no pet in the end.”

In a recent BBB case study, experts believe at least 80 percent of the sponsored advertising links that appear in an internet search for pets are fraudulent.

How the scam works:

While searching online for a new furry friend you happen across your dream puppy. The only problem is the seller is located in another state, so you won’t be able to see the dog before you purchase it. Despite your suspicions of this being a scam, you pay the money and wait for your puppy to arrive. A couple days later, you receive a call from the seller asking for an additional sum of money to cover unforeseen expenses. As the weeks pass and no still no puppy, you soon realize you have been a victim of the puppy scam.

BBB offers the following tips on how to avoid pet scams:

Take the time to research any breeders and owners you are considering. Make sure you are buying from a reputable seller. You can start your search by going to Also be sure to verify the animal has all the necessary vaccines and ask for documentation.

Don’t buy a pet without seeing it first in person. Scammers often find images of cute animals off the internet. You can do a reverse image search to see if the photo was taken from another site. If multiples sites appears, it is likely a scam.

Asks you to wire money. Be wary of anyone who requires an initial deposit via wire transfer or anyone who offers to ship your pet. These are both common practices of scammers. Once money is sent, scammers take off and never heard from again.

Adopt, don’t shop. Approximately 6.5 million pets enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. An estimated 1.5 million of those shelter animals are euthanized. Saturday, March 23 is National Puppy Day, an international holiday created to celebrate man’s best friend and to encourage consumers to “adopt, don’t shop.” Check out your local animal shelter to find your new best friend!

Report the scam. Warn others of the scam. You can file a report on BBB Scam Tracker and spread the word on

For more information you can trust, visit

File photo of dog at 2018 Aberdeen Dog Fair~Sandhills Sentinel.



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