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Don't Fall Victim to the Online Pet Sale Scam This Holiday Season

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If you skipped the lines on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday, kudos to you. But if you're planning on doing most of your present-searching on the web, you should know there's one gift you should never purchase online: a puppy. While shopping for a four-legged friend is exciting, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning prospective fur parents to beware of online puppy purchasing scams that are putting people in the financial dog house.

(Photo Credit: Giphy)

Online scammers are posting faux pet sale ads in hopes of stealing your Christmas cash right from under your nose. According to the BBB, hopeful shoppers in Pennsylvania have been hit particularly hard this season. In a recent scam report, a man by the name of Turner Bosler who claimed to live at a non-existent Pittsburg address was advertising Maltipoo and Bichon Frise puppies for sale online. Bosler required his potential pet owners to pay a $250 fee via wire transfer, but once the payment was sent over, Bosler disappeared — leaving the dog-parents-to-be not only out of $250, but without a puppy as well.

"BBB advises puppy purchasers to do their due diligence and avoid making this particular purchase online, even if the cost seems significantly lower, as you'll likely pay more in the long run," President of the BBB of Western PA, Warren King said in a statement. "It's a simple process for scammers to setup online ads, social media posts, and free websites to promote a bogus business, so don't be fooled by pictures that could easily be pirated from legitimate breeders."

Online pet scammers are tugging at consumers' heartstrings.

Many people are falling victim to these types of scams for one simple reason: They're being blinded by their emotions.

(Photo Credit: Giphy)

Most of these scammers are posting pictures of sad-looking pets behind bars, along with ads that plead for someone to take in the poor pooch, who must be given up because of a divorce, family relocation, military duty. Sometimes, as the scam plays out, the victims are asked for more and more money — and they oblige, because they couldn't bear the thought of somehow participating in the poor animal's abandonment. That's exactly what happened to Dena Betz, a woman who “purchased” two puppies as Christmas presents for her daughters from Africa for a whopping $2,500.

Betz initially sent the sellers $200. Once the money was transferred, the sellers begged Betz for more, claiming that it would be refunded when the dogs arrived. Sadly, Betz sent what she could in bits until the full $2,500 was paid out, only to be left (on the day of the dogs' supposed delivery) sitting on the phone with an airport receptionist, who told her she'd been scammed.

3 Tips for Avoiding Online Puppy Scams, According to the BBB

1. Visit the seller. Reputable dog puppy breeders shouldn't have a problem giving you a tour of their on-site location. Be wary of breeders who refuse to meet face-to-face.

2. Confirm the location. If no physical location is provided, then ignore the listing.

3. Do your homework. If you're shopping online, verify the legitimacy of the website. If it's a real business, it should show up on Better Business Bureau's website. You should also ask the breeder if they're a member of an American Kennel Club affiliated club. If they say yes, double check with the club to verify their membership.

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