As more consumers turn to the Internet to find pets to add to their families, more scams are popping up. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is reminding consumers to use caution after recent reports of pet scams, claiming North Carolina locations, target consumers across the country.
BBB has been alerted by consumers about Galaxy Dachshund, a website claiming to sell puppies. The site lists a phone number with a local area code (984) and asks for payment to be sent via wire transfer to Durham, NC.
A consumer in Tennessee contacted BBB after seeing an advertisement for Dachshund puppies on a popular gaming app. After wiring $500, she was then told she had to pay an additional $1275 to rent a crate to ship the puppy, even though she was initially told that shipping was free. “When you look into the sweet brown eyes of a puppy, you instantly forget everything you were taught,” said the woman.
BBB was also contacted about homebreedpoodles.com, which claimed to have had a Wake Forest address on their now defunct website.
Consumers were told the puppies would ship after payment via wire transfer or money app. “I paid for two puppies and I was never given puppies,” said one complainant. The consumer added that he asked for a refund since the website says they have a 100% money back guarantee, but has not heard back.
“There is a misconception that puppy scams happen only around the holidays, but this scam is rampant and happens at all times of the year,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB. “BBB Scam Tracker has 907 reports on this type of fraud and a Federal Trade Commission report found some 37,000 complaints involving pets.”
Recently, the BBB International Investigations Initiative conducted an extensive study of online puppy scams. The study looks at the scope of this problem, who is behind it, and the need for law enforcement consumer education to address the issue. You can read the full study here or download a PDF here.
BBB offers the following tips to help consumers avoid puppy scams:
~Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an Internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
~Never pay a stranger with a money order or through Western Union or Moneygram.
~Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.
~Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent offer.
~The Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters. They also have tips for finding a reputable breeder.
~Learn about fraud in your area at BBB Scam Tracker.
BBB offers the following advice if you have been a victim of a puppy scam:
~File a report with BBB’s Scam Tracker.
~Complain at Petscams.com.
~Complain to the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP
~If you sent money through Western Union, MoneyGram or a Green Dot MoneyPak, contact those companies directly for information about the transactions.