Officials warn of ‘too good to be true’ puppy scam

(FOX19) - Ohio officials are warning consumers to beware of too good to be true offers for puppies and other pets for sale online.

More than 25 complaints have been received in the past two years from consumers who said they paid for a pet they found online but never received, the Ohio Attorney General's office said. The average loss is more than $1,000.

"They'll convince the consumer to send hundreds or thousands of dollars for a new puppy, but the puppy never arrives and the consumer is left disappointed or heartbroken," said Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Officials said the scam often begins with online ads for puppies that advertise a price that's lower than expected for that particular breed. The seller asks the consumer to send money for shipping using a wire transfer or prepaid card. The consumer pays but never receives the dog and can't recover the money.

To protect from scams, consumers should deal with a local breeder who has a good reputation, Attorney General DeWine advised. He also offered these  'red flag' warnings to beware of:

  • Breeders who will communicate only online or via text message
  • A low cost for a dog of a popular or expensive breed
  • Sellers who ask for additional fees beyond the agreed-upon price
  • Pets that are "free" to a good home
  • Sellers who say they will refund the money once the puppy is delivered
  • Shipping companies or couriers that keep contacting the consumer asking for more money
  • Claims that there was an insufficient shipping container

Ohioans can check for breeder complaints on file with the Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau.

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