Puppy scams increase as people look for pets for companionship: 'Heart was stronger than her common sense'

Thursday, June 11, 2020
Puppy scams surge as people look for companionship
People looking for a dog or cat as potential companions during shelter-in-place order are paying for pets that don't exist as "puppy scams" increase.

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Stuck at home, many are turning to dogs and cats for companionship during the novel coronavirus pandemic. That has created a bump in the number of bad actors being reported in the world of pets. There are a couple things going on: outright scams and deals gone bad. Either way, consumers are left without the companionship they imagined.

Cecilia Antinero decided to buy a puppy to help her kids through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They were so excited," she told 7 On Your Side. "We even bought the stuff we need. We bought the bed, we bought the food... Being the mom, you didn't want to disappoint them," said Antinero.

RELATED: 7 On Your Side helps woman recover money from puppy scam

The total price was supposed to be $400, but the costs ramped up.

In a memo marked "Confidential," she was told she would need to make a refundable deposit of $800 so the puppy could be shipped.

"Then, I fell into their trap," she says. "Because, out of desperation, I did not want to disappoint my kids."

RELATED: Bay Area families buy puppies online, find out it's a scam

The Golden Gate Better Business Bureau's Lori Wilson says the bad guys are banking on that.

"A greedy seller is rarely satisfied with the initial scam," she says. "They will keep coming back to you till you put the brakes on or tell them to stop," said Wilson.

Antinero eventually cut off the money flow and contacted 7 On Your Side. We are now attempting to help.

Onto another case where we were able to help Jenny Lee. She was working with a breeder back East who didn't deliver. Oh, but she charged.

RELATED: Scam steals dogs, puts them up for sale on Craigslist

"First, we found out our credit card was charged three times for three thousand dollars. And when we reached out to the breeder," Lee says, "her explanation was she is working with a new system she is transitioning to."

Problems persisted, so Lee contacted 7 On Your Side and she got a credit card chargeback.

The Better Business Bureau is keeping track of bad actors.

The stories consumers tell are often heartbreaking.

"One of the consumers we heard from, she says her heart was stronger than her common sense," Wilson told 7 On Your Side. "I thought that was really, really telling."

Update: After the story aired Wednesday evening, Cecilia Antinero informed 7 On Your Side that the Antinero family adopted a puppy from Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton. She said, "the family now has a great little dog, and it has a loving family."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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