BBB warns of pet scams using puppy photos stolen from social media

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Friday, November 18, 2022
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The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be cautious when buying pets online, as many scammers use photos stolen from social media.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Hoping to cuddle up to a new pet dog or cat this holiday? The Better Business Bureau reports more than one out of three complaints reported to its scam tracker involve the sales of pets. Most of those involve online scammers.

"You're 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 that actually just spoke his name to us and we're like, 'Okay, this is the one,'" she said.

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

MORE: Google lawsuit alleges fraud suspect used their platform for pandemic 'online puppy scam'

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

Alma Galvan is with the Better Business Bureau.

She says consumers are often enticed with cute puppy photos stolen from someone online.

"A lot of the scam websites that we see use really really good enticing photos. Obviously we all get warm and fuzzy and sad when we see a real cute puppy," Galvan said.

Judy Neuhaus found her corgi Abby on a website for sale.

VIDEO: Local pet store caught in middle of suspected puppy fraud ring

That puzzled her because Abby had been euthanized following a fight with cancer.

She thinks someone stole Abby's photos off her Facebook page.

"It's degrading to show my beautiful dog pregnant on a hill for someone to scam people out of money," Neuhaus angrily said.

The scam doesn't end there.

The BBB says the scammers will require a large upfront deposit.

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

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

18 months later, she still has not received her puppy.

"It just keeps happening and happening because people want that puppy so bad," Galvan explained.

Fortunately for Wilson, she caught on and did not pay the additional fees, but she never received a refund on her deposit.

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

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