In the midst of COVID-19 and shelter in place orders, many are using the extended time at home as an opportunity to bring a pet into their lives. Unfortunately, BBB Scam Tracker data indicates that some consumers who turn to the internet to find their furry friend are being targeted by scammers.
Puppy scam reports processed by BBB serving the Heart of Texas in March and April rose from 12 reports in 2019 to 38 reports in 2020, an increase of 191%. Total dollars lost also increased by 163% with $9,152 dollars reported lost from March to April 2019 and $27,250 dollars reported lost in 2020.
Puppy scams involve consumers purchasing puppies, or other pets, online from a scammer that claims they will ship the dog to them. After paying for the puppy, the scammer may request more funds to take care of shipping issues or other complications. Once the money is exchanged, the scammer and the victim’s money disappear. Victims later realize the pup they purchased never actually existed, and the photos used on the scammer’s website are often taken from other legitimate online breeders.
BBB also found scammers are citing “new COVID-19 regulations” as a reason to charge more for specialty crates or to avoid allowing consumers to visit the dog before purchase.
BBB Serving the Heart of Texas has investigated three pet sales websites, each of which was traced back to the same individual. All the websites were created during the COVID-19 crisis. Celia Dachshund Home was created in February 2020, Ashley’s Bengal Kittens in March and Amanda’s Dachshund Home in April. Thus far, BBB has received 10 complaints and Scam Tracker reports against these three websites.
One victim stated, “We thought this was going to be our first purchase as a married couple when in return all we did is lose $500 for a puppy that doesn’t even exist. They wanted $770 for a crate because of COVID-19, and I realized I had been scammed. They started texting my husband saying I told them he would pay for the crate.”
To date, the company has not responded any of BBB’s communications and maintains an F rating.
If you are considering bringing a new family member home during this time, use these tips from your Better Business Bureau to avoid puppy scams:
For more on puppy scams, visit BBB.org.
ABOUT BBB®: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on nearly 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB serving the Heart of Texas, which serves 105 counties and has offices in Austin, Bryan, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, Midland, San Antonio and Waco.