An American woman has stated that she was taken advantage of online and duped out of $500.
It took a few months, but Jo Stewart says after her 16-year-old dog died last year, she was finally ready to purchase a new puppy.
“I knew exactly what I wanted,” said Stewart. “I wanted a pure bred registered Shih Tzu in black and white. I was real specific in what I wanted.”
Stewart says she went online and came across “Paul’s Shih Tzu’s,” a breeder in Baltimore. He had the exact puppy she wanted. At least that’s what she thought.
“I emailed him. I called him. I texted him about the puppy,” said Stewart. “This darling little black and white puppy was available and I thought, ‘oh my goodness, I’m in love with this puppy.'”
Despite her love for the dog, she says she still did her homework. Before sending any money, she checked with the Better Business Bureau and couldn’t find anything on the breeder. She says she even Googled the address he listed online.
“I navigated around to the backyard and got an aerial view,” said Stewart. “It looked like there could be kennels in the backyard.”
Stewart wired the money. A week later, when the puppy was to be shipped, she says she got an odd call from another man asking for $1,500 for insurance. Stewart says she knew then she had been scammed.
“I was furious,” said Stewart. “Someone had taken $500 and I couldn’t get it back. I was dumb enough to fall for it, and I was heartbroken that there was no little puppy.”
Stewart’s bank did caution her against the wire transfer, but the scammers were smart. They’d already warned Stewart the bank was going to call and told her to say she knew the breeder.
Stewart later got her dream puppy. Instead of wiring money, she actually flew to the breeder.
The Better Business Bureau has the following tips if you’re looking for a pet:
To avoid being scammed, the ASPCA recommends you adopt locally – but, if you do use the Internet to find a puppy, never buy one you haven’t met in person. The organization also recommends picking up your puppy rather than having the puppy shipped.
For consumers considering purchasing a pet, BBB offers the following advice:
• Do your research. Ask for the breeder’s references. You can also check bbb.org to see details about complaints against the breeder, advertising issues and other details about the seller.
• Visit the breeder first. Responsible breeders and rescue groups will be more than happy to offer you a tour. This will allow you to see if the environment is clean and healthy for the puppies.
• Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned with getting paid. Any reputable breeder will be far more concerned with the appropriateness of the potential pet home than what and when they are getting paid. Make sure you have clear expectations – ideally in writing – of how and when the puppy will be paid for. Be especially wary of any breeder who insists that you wire money or insist you can only pay with a prepaid debit card.
• Don’t pay via wire transfer. If you’re asked to use a wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram to pay for a pet, that’s a red flag. Wire transferring money is like sending cash – once you send it you can’t get it back.
• Don’t be fooled by a slick website. Dishonest breeders and even outright scams can be represented by professional-looking web sites that lure you in with fraudulent pictures of adorable puppies. To be safe, try doing a reverse image search of the photo to see if it appears in older ads. In some cases, the photos are from social media sites or old listings and just re-posted with a new, fake online ad.
• Take your time. Beware of breeders who claim to have multiple breeds ready to ship immediately. It’s highly unlikely that your perfect puppy will be available for shipping on the very day you call. Gestation and socialization of a litter takes months, and no puppy should be separated from its mom before eight weeks of age. Also, if you’re told that there are no refunds for a sick puppy, you’re most likely dealing with a puppy mill.
• Consider adopting from a local animal shelter. Puppies and pets of all kind are in shelters across the U.S. waiting for a home. Many adoptions come with a small fee. To find a shelter near you, visit The Shelter Pet Project.
• Report a scam. Anyone who has experienced a puppy-related Internet scam should report it to their local authorities, the Internet Crime Complaint Center and BBB Scam Tracker.
Thanks to KBTX for this report