Better Business Bureau warns of increase in puppy purchase scams – KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning of an increase in internet puppy purchase scams in Santa Barbara.

The nonprofit, business-supported organization says that families have been scammed by websites advertising animals for sale that are never shipped.

The organization says families who are obeying the stay-at-home orders have turned to the internet to look for pets thinking they would have time to help their new pets get adjusted to its new surroundings.

The organization says the pandemic has given scammers reasons to ask for money or explain why the person can’t see the pet in person before, causing the legitimacy of the purchase to be in a bit of a gray area.

Victims were scammed into sending money for special crates, insurance and a non-existent COVID-19 vaccine.

In April, the organization said a Santa Barbara woman reported losing more than $6,000 to a puppy scammer. The woman says she purchased a puppy for her mother from a so-called breeder, was promised delivery every day but every day they asked for more money. One day they needed more money for a better transport carrier, another for accommodation fees along with other claimed necessities. The woman reported the business to the BBB.

“When I said I couldn’t pay, I was guilt tripped that this puppy would be quarantined and I’d still have to pay more, still promising that once I paid the puppy would be delivered.” Her original $600 purchase turned into over $6,000 and no puppy.

The BBB investigated puppy scams back in 2017. They found that these types of scams are high during the holidays.

New data from the BBB Scam Tracker shows that these kind of scams have seen a spike since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They say there have been more reports about fraudulent pet websites in April than in the first three months of the year combined.

According to reports submitted to the BBB’s Scam Tracker, victims reported they wanted to adopt a puppy in order to ease their isolation and brighten their lives during the pandemic.

The Better Business Bureau gave the following tips on how to avoid these types of scams:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. If that isn’t possible, conduct an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, its likely is a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials, to see if the seller copied it from another website.
  • Don’t send money by Western Union, MoneyGram, and a cash app like Zelle or a gift card. These payment methods offer no recourse and no way to get your money back if you are the victim of a fraud. Fraudsters may claim to accept credit cards, but may steal your credit card information to use it in other scams or inform you that payment didn’t go through and request the payment via wire service or gift cards.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If a purebred dog is advertised for free or at a deeply discounted price, and then other payment is required for services like vaccination or shipping, it could be a fraudulent offer.
  • Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter. Especially during this time of quarantine, many shelters are looking for fosters to help relieve the animal’s stress and reduce overcrowding at their facilities.  Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters.
  • If you think you have been scammed, report it to BBB Scam Tracker and the Federal Trade Commission. You also can report it to, which catalogues puppy scammers, tracks complaints and endeavors to get fraudulent pet sales websites taken down.

For more information on the Better Business Bureau, click here.

Community / Coronavirus / Health / Lifestyle / Safe at Home / Safety / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Maria – North County / Ventura County

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