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BBB: Puppy scams continue to be common in 2021 ahead of holiday season

Puppies like this one at Warrior Canine Connection will eventually grow up to be service dogs for veterans who need one. In its 15 years, the nationwide program has helped more than 5,000 veterans.
Posted at 4:51 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 16:51:32-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan says consumers looking for a furry addition to their families should beware of buying online.

Pets and pet supplies was actually the riskiest sales category when it came to online purchase scams, according to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report released Wednesday.

Puppy scams also continue to be among the most common reported in 2021.

Earlier this year, a Muskegon woman thought she found the perfect addition to her family.

She was contacted by a scammer posing as a shipping service to deliver her puppy, BBB said.

The scammer continued to ask for money to cover puppy insurance, quarantine services, vaccines, housing, a puppy passport and a city permit. All the money needed to be sent through Zelle.

BBB says the woman was promised the payments would be refunded when the puppy arrived, but the animal was never delivered and the woman lost more than $5,300 in the scheme.

“If you can’t physically see the animal, don’t buy it. It is a scam,” said Phil Catlett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Many victims tell us they are more impacted by the emotional toll of not getting the pet than they are the money that was taken.”

BBB offers the following tips to avoid puppy scams:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in-person before you pay. 
  • Do a reverse image search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud. You can also search the text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site. 
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