Don’t waste your money: Pet scams skyrocket as the holiday shopping season heats up

If adding a furry friend to your family is on your last-minute Christmas list, beware of complaints about pet scams that continue to skyrocket according to the Better Business Bureau.

Every year during the holidays, Tow Truck Diane Wilson hears about a family who not only lost money, but faced major heartache after falling into a pet scam.

This scam works in two ways. First, you find a dog or cat advertised online. This is generally a popular breed and the post has some nice pictures and a discounted price.

You pay the animal up front, either by transferring the money, or through a cash app, or even gift cards. Once all that money is paid, the crooks keep asking for more money and the animal never shows up.

Recently, a family in Raleigh lost over $ 1,000 thinking of buying a Yorkshire Terrier from a legitimate breeder.

We have shown you how scammers create websites to make it look like they are legitimate breeders. Alyssa Parker of the BBB East North Carolina said: “Be aware of any grammatical errors on the website or see if the address they are posting is legitimate.” A quick Google search and image search will also help you determine if this is a scam.

We also showed you the heartbreak of a Raleigh family who lost money to this scam after they bought a sick puppy from someone in the area. Within days of bringing the new member home, the family realized the animal was very ill and in need of thousands of dollars in medical care.

In one case, the puppy was so sick that he had to be shot. To protect yourself, ask for a medical record and see if you can have the puppy examined by your veterinarian before committing to purchase the animal.

According to the BBB, the median loss from pet scams reported to Scam Tracker in 2020 is $ 750. People aged 35 to 55 accounted for half of BBB reports in 2020.

Estimate of Complaints and Scams Related to Pet-Related Scams Every Year, According to BBB:

  • 2017: 884
  • 2018: 1,578
  • 2019: 1870
  • 2020: 4,300

Tips to Protect Yourself from Pet-Related Scams:

Visit and inspect the animal yourself by arranging to meet with the potential seller in person. Most legitimate breeders welcome the visit.

Never send money via wire transfer to people or businesses you don’t know and trust. Once the money is wired, it’s gone for good. The same goes for prepaid debit cards or gift cards. Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges. If someone asks you to pay for anything with a gift card, you may be dealing with fraud. also warned people to pay with Zelle, a digital payment system.

Search the Internet for the photo of the animal you are considering. If the same image appears on more than one website, it may be a scam site. Consider looking for the text of the ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site or if they are hosting multiple sites.

Research rates for the breed you wish to adopt or purchase. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a very discounted price, that is probably not true. If the content on the page states that they register dogs with a specific organization or registry, confirm this by contacting the registry or organization directly.

Check out the website. Go to and find out if there is a list of the company or breeder listed on the website.

Find out what other consumers are saying. Check BBB Scam Tracker and search the internet for the name of the breeder or organization.

Consider visiting the local animal shelter. Many shelters are looking for foster families to help relieve stress on animals and reduce overcrowding at their facilities.

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