CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It starts with a cute face and ends with you getting scammed out of both the puppy and thousands of dollars.
Scammers are targeting holiday shoppers looking for a furry friend to take home.
19 News teamed up with the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad to bring you the latest scams and to protect your cash.
The puppy scam usually starts when a buyer is looking for a specific breed of dog.
“These websites look very legitimate. They have pictures of adorable puppies. They talk about the dog," said Sue McConnell with the Cleveland BBB.
Buyers might start with paying a small amount of cash to reserve the dog, then the scam grows with having to pay for things like vet bills, even crates, and shipment for the dog.
“As long as you keep paying, they’ll come up with reasons to keep asking you for more money," McConnell warned.
19 News found at least three websites with the same testimonial saying quote: “She’s a very sweet girl and has slept with me thru the night. She’s doing very well, eating, playing, etc.”
The problem is each websites sells a different type of dog and in each picture, there’s a different dog with the same review.
Even though the pictures and dogs are different, the reviewer has the same exact name and location.
Other testimonials on the same page also have identical reviews, but different pictures and different dogs.
19 News tried calling the businesses and were met with recordings for Google and “text now” subscribers.
Here’s what you can to do make sure you don’t become a victim:
- Don’t buy a puppy sight unseen.
- Research the company and the website.
- Go to bbb.org or whois.com to find out where and when the website was created.
- Be wary of companies from overseas.
- If you buy anything online, always pay with a credit card.
- Use the BBB Scam Tracker to find other complaints from buyers where you live.
If you feel you’ve been scammed, contact the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad to 216-443-SCAM.