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Beware of online puppy scams

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Posted at 9:29 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 21:29:05-04

National Puppy Day may be one of the cutest national days to celebrate, but here's some less-than-cute news: beware of online puppy scams!

According to Attorney General Mike DeWine, puppy scams cost victims an average of $1,000 by trying to sell a puppy that doesn't exist.

"They'll show you a picture and say they'll deliver the puppy to you, but after you pay, you won't get anything in return. We just warn people to be very careful if they're trying to buy a puppy online," Attorney General DeWine said.

If you come across a website advertising an "adorable," "precious" or "cute" puppy that asks the buyer to wire a few hundred dollars in order to purchase the puppy and then you get a request for more money for shipping insurance or other costs, don't trust it. No puppy is ever delivered.

Over 50 puppy scam complaints have been reported to the Attorney General's Office in the last year. Consumers said the scams generally started with a specific puppy website, but some also reported finding ads on Facebook or other social media sites.

Some signs of a puppy scam include:

  • A seller who requests payment via wire transfer or money order.
  • Too-good-to-be-true prices, such as $500 for a puppy that normally costs $1,000. 
  • Pictures of the same puppy on multiple websites.
  • Not being able to visit the puppy before purchase.
  • A seller with a poor reputation or no reputation.
  • A seller who threatens to turn you in for animal neglect or abandonment if you refuse to send more money to the seller.

Tips to avoid scams:

  • Research breeders and sellers thoroughly. Check complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
  • Never purchase a pet sight-unseen over the internet, especially if they request an "adoption fee" or "shipping fee."
  • Visit the puppy in person.
  • Consider adopting from a local animal shelter.
  • Watch for red flags, like too-good-to-be-true offers, sellers who require payment via wire transfer or money order, request for or unexpected extra costs, or threats that you'll be turned in for animal abuse or neglect if you don't pay.
  • Report potential problems with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.