Puppy scams swindle thousands of dollars during Holiday season

Consumer Reports

SAVANNAH, GA (WSAV) –  The season of giving has arrived and it is also the season for scams.  We are on your side to help you avoid becoming a victim.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), puppy scams are one of the biggest scams during the holiday season. A BBB scam tracker showed people in our area are no stranger to puppy scams.

From October 2015 until now there have been 20 pet scams amounting to nearly $9,000 dollars. That’s money for the scammers and no pet for you.

Scams are everywhere and anyone can become a victim. The BBB says puppies are big due to cost.

“There is big money involved. That’s why puppies because there is big money involved,” president of the SC Atlanta BBB, Thom Stephens says.

Most people often fall victim when they are looking for a bargain.

“If you come across a website that’s selling beautiful Yorkies for $800 bucks. That should be a tip-off that there is probably a challenge. Number one they’re way under-priced than what the going price is. So there is a really good chance that it’s a scam website,” Stephens said.

He adds that the price is a dead giveaway but also pictures. Most pictures and descriptions are taken from legitimate breeder websites.

“You’ve seen Yorkies advertised for $2500 or $3000 dollars then someone offers to sell you one for 800. Great, good deal I want it. So, you say yes and you send them the money. Number one they’re going to ask you to wire it or do either MoneyGram or western union,” Stephens said.

You send the first payment thinking it’s going to be a quick and easy process but it won’t.

“In addition to the $800 we need $200 dollars to pay for shipping so you send them 1000 dollars. Two days later you get an email that says the dog got sick we need emergency vet bills and we need another 150 or 200 dollars to pay for these vet bills… and so, you pay that,” Stephens says.

Next, they request an additional $250 dollars for a shipping crate.

“A couple days later another email says the dog is held up at the airport and we need $150 dollars for food and water while he’s at the airport to keep him from starving to death,” he says.

And it goes on and on until you realize you’re being scammed and stop sending money.

He says over a week or more they string people along. Some end up paying the $2500 dollars they would have originally paid if they purchased from a reputable a breeder. The worst part is you can’t get your money back.

“They won’t take credit cards. Because credit cards you can always go back against the credit card company and get your money back against the merchant,” Stephens said.

He says most times these scams take place off-shore and there is a way to track down the suspect.

“Number one they can track the website. the website has to be hosted somewhere. so if you have enough scams committed you’re talking about a pretty good chunk of money,” he said.

There are ways to protect yourself from scammers. Go to local animal shelters instead of buying pets online. If you decide to go with a local breeder find out if they will allow you to see the dog. And never trust a website where you can’t pay with a credit card to dispute the charges.

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

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