If there is one thing people love almost as much as their coffee and yoga, it’s dogs. And in today’s online marketplace even animals have become a commodity. It also means pets, particularly puppies and kittens can be the backdrop for scams.
BBB (Better Business Bureau) has received several calls so far in the New Year from those who have been victimized after contacting who they thought were legitimate breeders.
How the scam works:
Scammers post ads on Craigslist or Kijiji for puppies that are available. The ad often includes a sob story, and they simply want to get rid of the puppies for free, all you have to pay for is the flight for the dogs to reach your destination.
The ‘breeder’ then asks you to wire money to secure the deal.
Once that is done, a couple of days go by and the buyer is contacted by the breeder who insists the animals are stuck at an airport and they need more money for things like vaccinations and travel insurance.
“The latest call involved a young mother who thought she was getting two puppies from Halifax and wired them $800 dollars.” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland B.C. “It was a pretty slick operation. She was even shown the dogs via Skype. The breeder said the dogs were stuck at the airport in Edmonton and required a further $1700 dollars. A quick call confirmed the airport had no dogs at all. This is a bad scam because we all love our pets and want to welcome them as part of the family. Not only do victims lose money, but there’s an emotional impact as well.”
Tips to avoid a puppy scam:
• Always visit the breeder. Responsible breeders are more than happy to give you a tour and see the puppies first hand.
• Look for warning signs on fake websites. Fake breeder sites look real and offer a plethora of cute puppies for sale. The content is typically stolen so search the web for the same images of dogs. Search for the domain name on “WHOIS Lookup.” Make sure the site is hosted in the country the breeder claims to be located.
• Ask for references. A legitimate breeder should be able and willing to provide references.
• Pay with credit card. Never wire money to people you don’t know.
• Research reputable animal shipping companies. If the seller is legit, they should have no problem with you arranging pick up and drop off.