Better Business Bureau warns of pet scams using stolen puppy photos on social media

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) — Hoping to cuddle a new dog or cat over the holidays? The Better Business Bureau reports that more than one in three complaints reported to its scam tracker relate to the sale of pets. Most of them involve online scammers.

“You are such a good girl,” Daphne Wilson said as she cuddled her miniature dachshund, Nala.

She wanted to surprise her son Brandon with a dog of his own.

“We found one who just told us his name and we were like, ‘Okay, that’s the one,'” she said.

Wilson found the animal on an online pet store. She sent in her 50% deposit and waited for the pup to arrive at Oakland International Airport.

MORE: Google lawsuit alleges fraud suspect used its platform for pandemic ‘online puppy scam’

“So I was waiting. Now I was waiting for the plane. And I was looking around and then the plane never showed up,” Wilson recalled.

Alma Galvan is with the Better Business Bureau.

She says consumers are often drawn to cute pictures of puppies stolen from someone online.

“A lot of the scam websites we see use really good attractive photos. Obviously, we all get hot and confused and sad when we see a real cute puppy,” Galvan said.

Judy Neuhaus found her corgi Abby on an auction site.

VIDEO: Local pet store caught in the middle of an alleged puppy fraud ring

This intrigued her because Abby had been euthanized following a battle with cancer.

She thinks someone stole Abby’s photos from her Facebook page.

“It’s demeaning to show my beautiful pregnant dog on a hill to someone to scam people out of money,” Neuhaus said angrily.

The scam does not stop there.

The BBB says scammers will require a large initial deposit.

MORE: Families remember pets lost amid renewed calls for dog training industry regulation

Wilson says the people who sold him a puppy demanded extra money for a special crate and other fees.

18 months later, she still hasn’t received her puppy.

“It keeps coming and going because people want this pup so badly,” Galvan explained.

Luckily for Wilson, she understood and didn’t pay the extra fee, but she never received a refund on her deposit.

Check out more stories and videos from Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

The 7OYS Consumer Helpline is a free mediation service for consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area. We help individuals with substance-related problems; we cannot act on business-to-business cases or cases involving family law, criminal cases, landlord and tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please see our FAQs here. As part of our support process, it is necessary that we contact the company/agency you are writing about. If you do not want us to contact them, please let us know immediately, as this will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

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