The Better Business Bureau has noticed a spike in puppy scams through BBB Scam Tracker. BBB's Veronica Craker says in the past couple of months there have been four dog purchase scams reported in Idaho. Of those four, three of the victims lost more than $1,600 combined.
"In all three of those cases, the victims came across the breeder's website when looking for their pet. Keep in mind, anyone can build a website these days, so you have to dig a little deeper to be sure it’s legitimate," Craker said.
According to BBB, the scammers sent their victims pictures of the dogs, but never allowed the buyers to see the dogs in person.
"In at least two of these reports, the scammers created elaborate stories about themselves, telling the buyers they were very religious and wanted to sell the dogs to someone with a similar faith. So they played on their emotions," Craker added.
The buyers were also asked to pay by either wire transfer or gift cards.
"Once they sent the money, the scammers started asking for more, saying it was to register the dog or transport it, until eventually the buyers realized they were being scammed," Craker said.
BBB recommends consumers look for the following when purchasing a pet through a breeder:
- Visit the breeder and pick up your pet directly. Make sure the animal is as happy and healthy as you expected.
- If you’ve found the pet online, ask for real, personalized photos before you make the trip, and before you pay money.
- Never send money via wire transfer or prepaid card.
- Consider adopting from a local shelter. This can be a less expensive choice and allows for interaction with the pet before bringing it home.
For more resources to help you shop wisely, visit www.bbb.org.