BBB: Online puppy scams rising sharply in 2020

FactFinder 12 Investigators: Don't Fall For It
FactFinder 12 Investigators: Don't Fall For It(kwch)
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 6:22 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new report from the Better Business Bureau shows that complaints involving pet-related scams have more than doubled from last year. The BBB estimates that more than three-quarters of the websites that advertise puppies for sale aren’t real.

“The pandemic has been a windfall. It’s created a perfect storm for puppy scams,” said Paul Brady with the BBB. “It’s created a perfect storm for puppy scams.”

From January through November, nearly 4,000 people filed complaints with the BBB and reported losing as much as $6,200 to pet scammers. One case involved a Wichita man who reported to the BBB in April that he used a digital payments network called Zelle to pay $940 for a French bulldog puppy from scammers who used a bogus, but legitimate-looking website to handle shipping for the puppy that never arrived.

“In addition to telling buyers they cannot meet a pet before paying because of the pandemic, fraudsters have made COVID-19-related money requests for items such as special climate-controlled crates, insurance and a (non-existent) COVID-19 vaccine, according to Scam Tracker reports,” the BBB warns. “There also were instances where purchasers wanted to pick up the pet but were told that wasn’t possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

The BBB said virtually meeting the animal and owner selling it, as well as researching the recommended offer before paying are good ways to reduce scam incidents. The BBB also recommends checking out local animal shelters for pets you can meet before adopting.

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