A furry scam: Watch out for puppy sales online
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -- The Better Business Bureau has been consistently receiving calls about a scam after the soft part of your heart.
They call it a puppy scam. Recently, a Louisville woman tried to buy a Teacup Yorkie Puppy from a website that turned out to be a scam website.
Madeline Drago started searching for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for her mother in February. She was looking for the perfect companion, especially after her mother was widowed back in October.
"They've been married 75 years and she was very lonely and was wanting a little teacup yorkie," Drago explained.
After a couple of internet searches, Drago says she found a website called evitateacupyorkies.net.
"It looked really good, so it had a contact to contact them, so I contacted them," Drago said.
Drago explains that she and the person scamming her exchanged dozens of emails. She asked about the details of the puppy. They assured her that after a thorough background check they would be happy to send her the puppy, as they told her they would never send their puppies to a dangerous home.
After discussing in detail about the puppy and the arrangements, Drago says her heart was set on Abbie, a small yorkie puppy still displayed on evitateacupyorkies.net. They told Drago that she should send a Money Gram at Walmart of $578.
"I called him after I sent him the money, I found out that his accent didn't match the pictures on the website," Drago said. The website shows a picture of a brunette woman holding multiple puppies. Drago says that's when it hit her that she might have been tricked into sending money.
The receiving party took things even further and asked Drago to send $900 more to cover airfare for the dog that would be shipped to her. Drago says she called them to tell them that she would go pick them up at the location that she had found. That's when she said they beat around the bush and declined to have her drive down. The address Drago found turned out to be the address of an empty warehouse somewhere in Virginia.
The Better Business Bureau takes note of scams like this and says it can really happen to anyone.
"Especially with these websites, they look so real these days," Reanna Smith-Hamblin said. "It's easy to Google something and really be interested in it and think it's your lucky day."
Smith-Hamblin says anytime there is a wire transfer or a MoneyGram involved, the consumer should be asking questions.
As for Drago's mother, she's been happily paired with another puppy they were able to find from a local location.
Drago says it is a bitter lesson learned, but wants others to learn as well from her example.
"Be cautious and try to check out closer if you can before you send any money," Drago said.
The BBB recommends several things when buying things online.
- Consider if the item you are trying to buy is really worth the amount that the website is asking for.
- Check to see that there is a legitimate address or a phone number associated with the owners of the website.
- If a monetary transaction is about to be made, see the options and always select to pay with credit card or debit card, instead of wire transfers or MoneyGrams. This way, the credit/debit card company can help you fight fraudulent charges.
- If you aren't sure about a website, the BBB can help you identify it for you. You can contact your local BBB office for help.
Several other things you can do to double check the legitimacy of a website are:
- If you see an image on the website (like pictures of puppies available for adoption) you can reverse Google search that image to see the original source. Right click on the image, and select Search Google for this image. If the image is taken from a different
website, there is a high chance that the website is not legitimate.
- Check the website URL at other sites that verify the legitimacy
of sites. Good examples are WhoIs.com as well as Scamadviser.com.
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