Consumer Alert: Beware of online puppy scams - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Consumer Alert: Beware of online puppy scams

Picture of English Bulldog "like" the one Jessica was going to purchase. Picture of English Bulldog "like" the one Jessica was going to purchase.

A local woman named Jessica was planning to surprise her husband with an English Bulldog puppy, but the surprise was on her.  

Jessica responded to a Facebook offer from a woman who was moving and was willing to give the puppy to someone - free of cost.  English Bulldog puppies can sell for several thousand dollars which makes the offer of a free puppy even more tempting. 

All Jessica needed to do to get her puppy was pay for the shipping. That's where the scam began. The shipping service required payment in advance and kept adding on charges. Before she realized she had been conned, Jessica gave the shipping service nearly $6,500.  

Puppy scams abound online where scammers can easily post pictures of adorable doggies available at little or no cost.  As in Jessica's case, the "breeder" or owner of the dog only communicates by email, text or electronic messaging - seldom by phone.  

Payment must be made by wire transfer, Green Dot MoneyPak card, or other form of electronic payment that is virtually untraceable.  Buyers are hit up for shipping fees, crate fees, vet bills and assorted expenses which must be paid before the pet is delivered. 

BBB offers the following tips to avoid scams when you're looking to buy a pet: 

• Beware of ads with multiple misspellings and grammatical errors. Many pet scams come from overseas and scammers often do not have a firm grasp on the English language. 
• Do not be swayed by websites that appear to be professional or display photos of available pets. Photos are easily lifted from other legitimate breeder sites. 
• Scammers frequently offer "free" pets or claim they need to find a home for the animal due to relocation, deployment overseas, illness, or other hardship scenario.
• Do not send or wire money to people you do not know.  
• If purchasing a pedigreed pet, be sure the breeder provides documentation of the parents' registration with the appropriate kennel club. This ensures that the pet is in fact a legitimate pure-bred animal. It is then your responsibility to register your pet with the appropriate kennel club. 

As for Jessica, she never received her puppy and has not recovered her money. 

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