(WHTM) — Many of us would love a new puppy for Christmas, but beware of puppy scams that seem to be everywhere stealing money and breaking hearts.
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Kerri McIntosh is a dog person who couldn’t help but fall in love when she found a Doberman puppy for sale in a Facebook dog lovers group.
“She said this is the price, it includes shipping, it is $1,300,” McIntosh said.
But, as soon as she sent the money, using a digital payment app, the breeder needed $750 more for the crate. Then hundreds more for vaccinations, insurance, and even a permit. McIntosh already had so much invested, so she kept paying. In the end, she paid $4,800.
As soon as she sent the money, the supposed breeder disappeared. McIntosh is the latest victim of an ongoing puppy scam that also took $800 from Denise Alvarez, trying to buy a Hanaeze puppy from a breeder website.
The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert about puppy scams, saying it has received several thousand complaints nationwide since the pandemic began. The bureau says in order to protect yourself, you should buy from a local breeder, Google a breeder or reviews and complaints, and pay with a credit card rather than Zelle or Venmo.
The BBB’s Sara Kemerer’s best tip? Ask the breeder to do a video chat with them holding the puppy.
“Ask the seller to do a video call or a FaceTime, just to make sure that the breeder is real and that the pet is real,” Kemerer said.
A scammer, typically using stolen photos, can’t do that. Alvarez and McIntosh, both burned by the scam, now warn other pet lovers.
Don’t fall in love with a puppy photo you find online, a puppy that may have gone to a home years ago, so you don’t waste your money.