Better Business Bureau (BBB)warns beware of puppy scams.
“Puppy scams continue to show up on our Scam Tracker web page,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “It’s very easy to be taken in by adorable pictures and promises of healthy, furry loved ones to add to your family. However these can turn into heartbreak very quickly unless we as consumers do our due diligence.”
The way the scam works:
* Scammers set up a fake website complete with pictures of beautiful, healthy dogs.
* Many of the animals appear to be given names already.
* The breeders are not located in your region and the dogs must be delivered via a pet shipping company.
* The victim is asked to pay for insurance and cage rental fees for the animal. Payment is typically made through pre-paid Visa or money transfer.
* The victim is told vaccinations have run out and the dog needs another round of shots at the airport. This is claimed to be over five thousand dollars in some cases.
* Scammers claim 95 per cent of the fees and vaccination costs will be refunded once the dog is delivered.
* The dog is NEVER delivered.
A recent complaint on BBB Scam Tracker in BC:
“I saw a site online called chihuahua dreams with a dog I wanted to buy for my mom (http://dreamchihuahua.com/) they said they will sell it to me for $300 plus $145 shipping fee then a shipping company TRAVELOCITY PET DELIVERY called me asking for $1820 for insurance and cage rental fee which was reasonable cause they said they will do a refund of 95 per cent when they deliver the dog. Then after they called again saying they dog vaccine expired two days ago which can’t be true cause vaccine last for three to five years and the dog is supposed to be three months. Then some guy calls and yells send money $5580 for the vaccine and says the same thing 95 per centback when delivered but I didn’t pay. Now they said the dog is stuck at New York customs and I have to pay until they will ship it. So please watch out for this site!”
(Fortunately, the aforementioned website appears to have been taken down)
BBB offers tips to avoid getting scammed:
Consider adopting or buying locally. Unless you can visit the owner or breeder before you pay and bring home your puppy personally, avoid buying puppy, bird or other pet from out of province.
Don’t be swayed by a fancy website. Remember that a flashy website is not an indication of ethics or integrity. Use a Google reverse image search to see if the same pets are advertised on other web addresses.
Make sure the price makes sense. Check the average price of a given breed. If the asking price is unusually low, that’s a red flag.
Never send, wire or use a money card to pre-pay people you have not met. Don’t fall for attempts to take more of your money with emergency requests to cover insurance, a special shipping container or vet bills.
Beware of emails with multiple misspellings and grammatical errors. Many pet scams come from overseas and scammers often do not have a firm grasp on the English language.
Research the seller and obtain references. Ask the breeder for references and contact people who have bought puppies in the past.
Ask for medical records and pedigree. Get a written account of all medical care your puppy has received, including vaccinations and antibiotics. Take the records to your vet during the first examination, which should be within a few days of bringing your puppy home.
Verify information. Remember that paperwork from a dishonest seller may not be legitimate. Report a suspected pet hoax to BBB Scam Tracker and look for clues by searching similar scams. Take your time, do your research and consider taking home a rescue pet from a local shelter.