WEST MICHIGAN — The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about an increase in pet scams that are claiming to be based in West Michigan.
Fake addresses are giving consumers false confidence in their purchases, according to a news release Wednesday.
“Increasingly we are finding fake websites using addresses that don’t exist, or picking real addresses they don’t have a connection with,” said Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “These consumers think they are buying from a local company, only to find they have been scammed and have lost any money they paid.”
Recent scams by the Better Business Bureau include Glorious Pet Transportation Company, which claims to be located at an address in Wyoming, Michigan.
However, the address given isn’t even a business, but actually an apartment complex around the corner from the Wyoming Police Department.
BBB hasn’t been able to identify anyone in that complex connected to the website.
Investigators also found six other identical websites operating under different names: Overland Pet Agency, Pets Shipping Logistics, Air Pet Global, Express Logistics Movers, Swift Pet Ways and Prime Pet Ways.
These websites are used to convince consumers who are buying a pet online that a real company is set to transport their new pet.
However, the BBB says fake transportation companies are usually just another step in the scam.
“Of all the scams we see, pet scams tend to have the largest personal impact,” Catlett said. “Customers get emotionally attached through video and pictures, only to have their hearts broken when it turns out to be a con. Most victims tell us they are more upset about not getting the dog or cat than they are about the money they lost.”
BBB is also warning about a website called Muh Paws, which claims to be based in Traverse City and offers pet supplies for sale at a discount.
More than 60 customers have complained over the past year, saying they didn’t receive the product they ordered.
The company hasn’t resolved the complaints and, according to customers, are ignoring emails.
“It’s important consumers research websites before they make a purchase,” Catlett said. “Far too often we are seeing websites pop up, take in money from customers and fail to deliver.”
The BBB offers the following advice for current and prospective pet owners:
- If you can, buy local. Start with a local animal shelter, breeder or store. This not only protects you, but also helps the local economy.
- Research before you buy, finding out what the track record of the company or website is by searching bbb.org.
- Be cautious with pet shopping. There are a limited number of breeders who ship animals. Live chats through apps like Facetime and Zoom help verify that both the seller and animal are real.