Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be cautious when shopping for pets online after a BBB investigation was conducted by BBB serving the Heart of Texas. It uncovered 11 related dog breeding websites to be scams. Within the last four months, BBB has received 16 reports alleging payments were provided to the following companies for puppies never delivered.
Each of these businesses used a Fort Worth, Texas, address on its website and listed similar or identical phone numbers. However, BBB’s investigation found that none of the addresses were actually associated with these businesses and none of the phone numbers were active. Furthermore, all the websites were registered to a person based in India.
Consumers from across the U.S., including some from Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa, reported to BBB that they found the websites while searching for a specific type of dog. Many said the websites “seemed legitimate” and that the businesses were responsive through email and would sometimes call them directly. The websites, which are no longer in operation, included several pictures of dogs that BBB later discovered were stock photos used by several other legitimate pet websites.
To further add legitimacy to the operation, consumers received contracts that they were asked to fill out and return.
BBB found that consumers paid the scammer hundreds to thousands of dollars using Google Pay or Zelle. One victim, who wished to remain anonymous, told BBB he paid $699 to Fluffy Samoyeds via Google Pay. He said he received an email on the day his puppy was supposed to fly from Dallas to the Pittsburgh airport. The email claimed that the airport found the dogs crate to be substandard and that an additional $1,900 was required.
He later contacted United Airlines and was told the tracking number was not legitimate.
Texas resident Khira Vitak said she was told by Pride Akitas she could physically pick up the puppy after paying $699.
“They gave me an address to go to. I drove four hours there and back to be met with a heartbreaking reality that the address belonged to some random family possibly caught in the crossfire,” Vitak said.
After her encounter, Vitak said she tried contacting Pride Akitas again but was never able to get ahold of anyone.
Within the last four months, these 16 consumers reported losing over $10,000 to this string of related puppy scams.
Here are some easy steps you can take to avoid becoming victim to this type of scam:
BBB first alerted consumers about the puppy scam problem in the in-depth investigative study, “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers.”
Report all scams to BBB Scam Tracker.
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