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Want a puppy for Christmas? Know These Puppy Scam Warning Signs

If your vacation plans include welcoming a new four-legged friend, a woman has learned the hard way not to trust all the adorable puppy ads you see.

Bridget Huddleston wanted a new puppy for the holidays.

“I’m looking for a little doggie puppy,” she said.

She found a blond Yorkshire Terrier in a Facebook group, offered at a great price.

“It was $200,” she said.

Huddleston fell in love. She showed us videos and pictures that the seller had sent her. All she had to do was buy a Visa gift card and send the numbers to the out-of-state seller.

As soon as she did that, the seller said the puppy was on its way.

“They sent me photos while in transit,” she said. “They even gave me updates along the way.”

But when she arrived at the airport, there was no dog. None of the airport baggage handlers knew anything about a puppy in a crate.

“I was at Pillar 3A where they told me to wait,” she said. “I sat there for hours!”

The seller and his money had disappeared.

Why it’s so easy to get scammed

Puppy scams bloom during the holiday season because so many people want a new dog for the new year.

And many local breeders won’t have a new litter of puppies until next spring, so hopeful buyers are scouring Craigslist, Facebook groups and other puppy-for-sale sites.

But the Better Business Bureau says buying a puppy online is one of the riskiest purchases you can make, as it says up to 80% of sponsored pet ads are fake.

And of those targeted in 2020, the BBB says 70% lost money.

Brandi Munden of the American Kennel Club says scammers are all over social media in November and December because “they know people are trying to put a puppy under the tree.”

How to protect yourself

The BBB says when choosing a dog…

  • Meet the seller in person, or at least do a video chat: tell him to hold the pup in front of the camera during a Zoom call. If they don’t, there’s probably no puppy for sale.
  • Do a price comparison and beware if the price is much lower than the breeders’ quotes.
  • Beware of copies or stock photos: you can do a Google reverse search on the image and see if this pup has appeared on other websites.
  • Another red flag is a seller asking for extra money for shipping and handling at the last minute.

“They don’t need a nanny for handling, they don’t need a temperature-controlled crate,” she said.
The easiest way to avoid pet scams is to go to a local animal shelter where you can see a cat or dog in person.

Bridget Huddleston is $200 short but says the hardest part is losing a puppy she fell in love with.

“If I can help the next person get to know themselves and prepare, then at least something will come out of it,” she said.

This way you don’t waste your money.

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