Consumers looking to buy an expense breed puppy online were issued a warning by the Better Business Bureau here in northeast Ohio and across the county.
The warning released on September 26 outlines a network of con artists who are using puppy photographs online, and low prices, to lure dog lovers into issuing thousands of dollars via wire transfers for puppies that don't even exist.
Better Business Bureau President Sue McConnell said the con artists play on the heartstrings of animal lovers, and, even though they appear to be operating here in the U.S., they're actually not.
"They create a fantasy that these dogs are for sale, and really play on your emotions," said McConnell. "It's really a big network of criminals doing this, and a lot of them are apparently coming out of Cameroon West Africa."
Lisa Roman of Chagrin Falls said she nearly fell for the scam when he was shopping for a Pomeranian earlier this year.
Roman said the price was just too good to be true.
"The price is amazing, because it's an expensive dog, and then you see one for $500 and you get so excited and it's so reasonable, and the pictures are amazing ," said Roman. "It's horrible, you're so excited to get this cute little puppy, that's a lot of money, and then you get nothing."
McConnell said another red flag is when the bogus puppy sellers continue to ask for more and more money, blaming it on shipping and insurance costs, or flight delays.
"Don't buy your puppies online, unless you're looking at the website of a local breeder that you can visit," said McConnell.