Lafayette, LA -The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased demand for pets as people sought to add a pet to the family to help ease the loneliness and tension. With this rising demand, scammers have continued to take advantage of consumers. The BBB continues to see instances in which an online search ends with a would-be pet owner paying hundreds of dollars or more to purchase a pet that ultimately doesn’t exist. Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana advises extreme caution when shopping for a pet online, especially in light of scammers’ evolving tactics.
How the Scam Works:
A consumer looking to adopt a dog finds an animal shelter or individual online wanting to rehome a puppy. They message the seller or shelter for more information and receive a convincing, heart-tugging back-story.
In this version of the puppy scam, the scammer may not charge for the dog. Instead, they ask for a refundable deposit to “hold” the pup or request payment to ship the pet to your home.
Most scammers ask you to pay through a digital wallet such as Zelle or Venmo. Scammers may also request victims use a pre-paid debit card or gift card. Although this scam mostly involves dogs, it can also include cats and other pets.
Inevitably, the puppy never arrives or the victim drives to a shelter to pick up the puppy, only to realize the address does not exist.
In other versions of the scam, the con artists offer to ship the dog, but demands the consumer pay for nonexistent emergency vet visits, additional shipping fees or even a COVID-19 test. They may even claim that the pet will be euthanized if the consumer does not pay immediately.
Once they’ve gotten your money, scammers disappear. The dog never existed.
Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana offers the following tips to Avoid Pet Adoption Scams:
Never buy or adopt a pet without seeing it in person. This is the best way to ensure you are not caught in a con.
Do an internet search of the pet’s image. If you do find a puppy online, upload the pet’s photo to a reverse image search. If you find multiple pet adoption sites using the same picture, it’s probably a scam.
To avoid scams, only use money transfers with friends or people you know.
Please contact Better Business Bureau at (337) 981-3497 24 or www.bbb.org 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
BBB Serving Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.