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BBB: Buying a pet online? Beware

Posted at 9:03 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 21:04:15-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Michael Dumas said he paid several hundred dollars for a pup he found online two months ago. In return, he said he got nothing from the seller.

"My wife... really wanted a small dog, and she wanted something that she could have with her all the time. So I was trying to make that come true," Dumas said.

The message therapist found out the deal he came across for Yorkies was too good to be true.

"I looked through the site, and it looked pretty legitimate," Dumas recalled.

He said he had exchanged emails with a seller who was using the name 'Jesica Mendez'.

"I originally asked how much they were selling a dog for. They said well, 'We're not selling the last dogs we have, we're actually giving them away now,'" Dumas recalled.

What's the catch? Dumas only needed to pay for shipping.

"It cost $450 to ship, and she told me I needed to go to Western Union to ship off the money to get the dog," he said.

Dumas made the payment. But instead of shipping his Yorkie, Dumas said the people on the other end of the transaction told him he purchased the wrong kind of shipping crate.

An email from the supposed shipping company stated "Safe Pet Airways" moved the dog to a warehouse for holding. They, of course, demanded more money.

Dumas explained, "They were really pressuring me to send the $800, and if I didn't they were going to double charge me if I didn't have the dog shipped by the end of the night."

He added, "So I went back and checked the reviews on the shipping company, and that's when I found out it was all a scam."​​

So Dumas notified the Better Business Bureau.

John Masterson with Better Business Bureau said, “These types of scams definitely play on the heart strings. They definitely have the picture of the cute little puppy, and you are worried about him, and you can’t wait to meet him. So you kind of gloss over any kind of red flags.”

He said the BBB hears about these situations fairly often. FOX 17 found another complaint online about the exact same 'seller' who accepted $1,500 but didn't ship a Yorkie to the customer.

“You want to obviously, if you can, see the pet, see the conditions, make sure that you verify all the paperwork, and that they are up on their vaccinations and have been treated well. Best practice is always to see before you buy any kind of pet via the internet,” Masterson explained.

The BBB suggests when you buy something online, don't use Western Union, Google Wallet or Bitcoin. Instead, use a credit card so you can dispute it later and possibly get your money back if the situation becomes sketchy.