A Fairfield woman wanted to adopt a dog for her husband for Christmas and believed she found a great deal online.
But the 66-year-old told police on Dec. 23 she believes she was scammed out of $700 she sent to Premium Jack Russells in Philadelphia, according to a police report. The address for the company the woman provided police is for a three-bedroom Philadelphia residence.
“As with most scams, the lesson is to be very suspicious when a company asks for payment by money transfers,” said Fairfield police Officer Doug Day.
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“These transfers are difficult, or in some cases impossible, to track.”
The Better Business Bureau advises avoiding online breeders that require wire transfers to ship pets, and an inability to inspect the pet before you buy or adopt.
“The scammer won’t send the puppy because the dog doesn’t exist,” according to the BBB. “The scammer simply stole the pictures and other information from a legitimate breeders’ website.”
With any scams, there are signs, officials said. If the price for the pet is unusually low, that's a red flag, according to the BBB. Pure-bred Jack Russells could cost as much as $2,500, according to petfriendlyhouse.com.
And just because a website is flashy or fancy, the BBB said that “is not an indication of ethics or integrity. Scam websites appear and disappear like a game of cat and mouse.”
The BBB suggests using Google's reverse image search to see if the same pets are advertised on other websites. Learn how to do do a reverse image search here.
MORE: Learn more about pet scams at the Better Business Bureau
You can also research seller, breeder or distributor at BBB.org, and ask the company for references past customers.
The AARP also provides advice, saying people should be cautious if:
• the seller insists on shipping the animal and rebuffs any offers to collect the pet in person
• the seller insists on shipping and declines offers to pick the pet up in person
• emails from the seller or shipping company have spelling and grammar errors
• the seller requires payment by money transfer, gift card or prepaid debit card
• shipment of the animal is continually held up by demands that more money is sent for extras, like insurance, pet food, veterinary care or a special crate
The BBB suggests seeking local pet adoption options.
“Unless you can visit the owner or breeder before you pay and bring home your puppy personally, avoid buying puppy, bird or other pet from out of state,” according to the BBB. “When you have a pet shipped from another area, you don’t know really how healthy or young it is or even if the pet exists at all.”
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