Burnsville, Minnesota – April 15, 2014 – Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers nationwide about a significant uptick in fraudulent pet breeder/seller websites falsely claiming addresses in the Twin Cities area. Three recent cases where consumers thought they were dealing with legitimate kennels led to individuals being swindled out of hundreds of dollars and left without the pet they thought they were adopting. BBB reminds the public that it’s very easy to create authentic-looking websites and scammers are good at telling people what they want to hear.
“Preparing to buy a pet for yourself or your family can be a very exciting time,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It can also be expensive, so scammers know they can get people’s attention by claiming to offer pets for free or at a large discount. Unfortunately, these ‘offers’ are just hooks to try to reel in more victims.”
BBB has uncovered three bogus entities involved in the recent cases of fraud: Fenando Pomeranians, Happy Husky and Maliz French Bulldogs – also doing business as Manuh French Bulldogs. All three entities have authentic-looking websites and claim to be located in the Twin Cities. However, though they have local phone numbers, BBB has determined none of them are legitimate and any pets featured on their websites are likely cribbed from the websites of real kennels.
Pet scams begin when fraudsters – posing as a legitimate kennel or breeder – create a fake website or place an ad offering free or inexpensive puppies. They usually communicate solely through email. Consumers are often taken in by the sincerity of the scammers. The con artists may say that they don’t care about money and just want to find a good home for their beloved puppies. Generally, as the scheme unfolds, scammers collect payment from hopeful consumers via wire transfer. In cases where puppies are advertised as free, scammers will usually ask for fees to cover last-minute transport or airport fees. Sadly, people who fall into any of these schemes wind up without a pet and out any money they paid or wired away.
“These scammers are greedy,” added Badgerow. “After collecting payment they will often ask for more funds, citing unexpected factors or costs. They are remorseless and devious.”
BBB offers this advice when considering the purchase of a pet: