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Puppy scams drain thousands of dollars from Michiganders

BBB warning

Photo by T.R Photography on Unsplash

November 3, 2021 —  If you are looking for a furry addition to your family, beware of buying online. The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan continues to see consumers falling victim to puppy scams. In fact, pets/pet supplies was the most risky sales category when it came to online purchase scams, according to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, and it continues to be one of the most common scams 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. The scammer continued to ask for money to cover puppy insurance, quarantine services, vaccines, housing, a puppy passport and a city permit. All of the money needed to be sent through Zelle. The woman was promised the payments would be refunded when the puppy arrived. 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,” says 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.” 

The BBB offers these tips on avoiding 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

What if you have been a victim of a puppy scam? 

Report it to  BBB’s Scam Tracker 

Report it to Petscams.com

Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP

If you sent money through Western Union, MoneyGram or a Green Dot MoneyPak, contact those companies directly for information about the transactions. They also download their complaints into the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database, which police around the country can access.

Green Dot 800-795-7597

Western Union 1-800-448-1492

MoneyGram 1-800-926-9400

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