Coming down with…puppy fever? You’re not alone, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says be aware of pet scams.
The BBB reports a spike, with 337 complaints in November alone, and it’s likely to increase during the holiday season.
“I went back and forth with guy for days. He told me he was going to give me my money back. But I never got my money back or the dog,” said Melanie Messier from Derby, Vermont.
Messier is a victim of pet fraud, which occurred just months ago.
“The dog was supposed to be in New York, and I was like I’ll just drive and come and get it. And he was like, no, it’s easier if we just ship the dog…that should have been my first red flag,” said Messier.
Messier said she realized she was scammed when her French Mastiff never came to her door. Confused, she contacted the seller and was told she had to pay an additional $600 for shipping insurance. But Messier did not acquiesce to this request. That day, she lost $700.
“We are encouraging people, this holiday season, if you’re looking to purchase a pet, make sure to do your due diligence,” said Paula Fleming, Chief Spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau.
Fleming says this means watching out for spelling errors, vague language, fake pictures, unsecure websites, and not seeing the pet before your purchase.
“You can almost read between the lines and know, ‘Oh this is just too perfect,’” said Kristina Bishop from St. Albans, Vermont.
Bishop says she noticed the scam before it was too late. If she hadn’t, she would have lost nearly $1500.
“When I would respond and ask questions, they kind of pushed, ‘Well, you need to hurry up and put a deposit down because we have a lot of inquiries. So when they started getting pushy like that, I said there’s another red flag,” said Bishop.
Fleming says these scams likely target those between ages 35-55 and has seen a recent trend in money provided via Cash App and Zelle.
If you’re ever unsure, the BBB suggests doing a reverse image search by simply right clicking, scrolling down to “Search Google for Image”, and checking to see if the picture comes up anywhere else.
Fortunately, Messier and Bishop eventually found pups fit for their families and recommend visiting the American Kennel Club if you’re considering adopting a pet.
“Especially after through this entire process rescuing a dog is absolutely positively the best thing to do,” said Messier.
“Our breeder, she was great and we still keep in contact and it’s a very personal relationship,” said Bishop.