As long as a dog remains man’s best friend, puppies will be a gift idea around the holidays. Being fueled by the desire to make all of their family’s Christmas wishes come true, it is not surprising that some people may miss the red flags when purchasing a puppy online. BBB urges parents to take precautions if they are seeking to place a big brown eyed, wiggling puppy wearing a big red bow under the Christmas tree.
Puppy scams have been around a long time and fake puppy sellers have improved their approach over the years. Now, BBB research shows the scheme can have two variations.
Taking you Twice
In both scenarios, the fake seller takes to the Internet and posts an ad to sell a certain breed of puppies. There are pictures of adorable puppies to lure you in. These photos are, more likely than not, stolen from the website of a legitimate breeder. One can’t help but to fall in love with the photo of the adorable fuzzy pups.
When a buyer contacts the fake seller, they will request that payment be made through Western Union or MoneyGram. This should be a big red flag. After they take your money for the purchase of the puppy, the fake seller may disappear without you ever receiving the puppy.
On the other hand, some phony online puppy sellers may try to take even more money from you. Consumers have notified BBB via BBB’s Scam Tracker that they were subsequently approached by the seller for additional money for insurance. In this instance, the seller claimed that the dog cannot be shipped until after the insurance company has been paid somewhere in the ballpark of $1000 to $1500! Once a refund request is made, the seller quickly disappears with the initial payment.
The Expensive Crate
Other consumers have reported to BBB Scam Tracker, a slightly different version of the scam. After paying the purchase price by Western Union, consumers report they received an email and telephone call from a “shipping company” that usually carries a name similar to a real shipping business. The email and the telephone call is to inform consumers that the puppy needs a special temperature controlled crate to be transported and that the costs for shipment is somewhere between $700 and $850. Of course, this payment too must be made by Western Union or MoneyGram. In some instances, the shipper claims that a portion of this money will be refunded to you once the puppy is delivered. This is only to entice the consumer to go through with the transaction. The “shipper” will also tell consumers that failure to pay the funds immediately may result in the detention of the puppy and higher fees.
Common Warning Signs
BBB cautions you to be careful when attempting to fulfil that Christmas wish of having a family dog. If you are buying a puppy from an online seller, take precautions to verify the legitimacy of the seller.
Beware of the following indicators of potential fraud:
Protect Yourself and Your Family
The purchase of a family pet is not one to be taken lightly. Instead of a surprise, a fun alternative could be a family filed trip to the local shelter in order to assure the best fit for each family member. For those who are really set on having this live Christmas present under the tree this year, don’t be left heartbroken, BBB offers the following tips when shopping for the puppy online: