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Douglasville man falls victim to internet puppy scam

The “quarantine puppy” craze has brought with it a huge increase in scams. Here’s what you need to know when trying to get a dog.
Updated: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:10 PM EST
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DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (CBS46) - Companionship during the pandemic translated to an increase in adoptions, but it also fed the major spike in pet scams. According to the Better Business Bureau, pet scams made up 35-percenty of scam reports they received during the pandemic.

When Patrick Paul and his family moved into a new home in Douglasville, they started looking for a puppy. They found two Doberman pincher puppies named Bruno and Gina. At $750 each, Paul received pictures and a lesson.

They were listed on “European Doberman pinscher puppies” - a website that no longer exists. CBS46′s consumer investigator Better Call Harry found them on another site “European Doberman puppies for sale.” Claiming to be a “family owned and operated Doberman Pinscher breeder in USA.”

After his first initial conversation with them about the puppies, they put him through was Paul described as a questionnaire and contract service. After sending money through Zelle, he was given a bill of sale and connected to Royal Pet Logistics, to organize the transport from Texas to Georgia. Scampulse.com says the website they used was a scam.

After paying for the full amount for the puppies, he was again asked for more money. By the time Paul realized he was dealing with scam artists, he had already paid nearly $1,500. When he asked for a refund, they denied his request over email, saying “sorry that is practically impossible. We can’t cancel. Too late for that.”

“It takes a lot to come out and say I got scammed. Yeah, it’s a lot, but I can’t blame anybody else because I should have seen the signs,” Paul said.

Increase in Pet Scams

The Better Business Bureau says it is not unusual to be scammed when making an emotional purchase like a pet. According to their data, they had more than double the pet scam complaints in 2020 compared to the year before, with around $3 million in losses.

“They are looking online, they’re being enticed by pictures videos of puppies. And one thing is that they are being enticed by the price of that breed,” BBB spokesperson Simone Williams explained.

Puppyscams.com estimates 80-percent of the puppy websites online are scams.

Below are some more tips from the Better Business Bureau for preventing becoming victim of a pet scam.

  • Do your research! Only purchase from a reputable dealer. Check BBB Business Profiles on BBB.org for complaints and customer reviews before you make the purchase.
  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. If that isn’t possible, request a live video call to view the animal, meet the breeder, and evaluate the facility.
  • Conduct a reverse image search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, it’s likely a fraud. You also can search for distinctive text from ads or testimonials, to see if the seller copied it from another website.
  • Avoid wiring money, or using a cash app or gift card. These payment methods offer no way to get your money back if you are the victim of fraud.
  • Do research to get a sense of a fair price for the breed you are considering. Think twice if someone advertises a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, it could be a fraudulent offer.
  • Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter. Many shelters are looking for fosters to help relieve animal stress and reduce overcrowding at their facilities.

If there’s something you would like CBS46′s Consumer Investigator Better Call Harry to look into, fill out this submission form.