Animal scams a common ploy during the holidays: BBB

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about an increase in scams for selling animals.

Scammers are misleading people, enticing them with cute photos that tug at the heart strings around the holiday season. But they eventually fail to come through with the animal after convincing people to pay more for supplemental things that pop up along the way. One woman in Fayetteville learned about the fraudulent transactions the hard way, paying thousands of dollars for a cat that never came.

Complaints about fake pet scams are on the rise for the BBB's scam tracker. The BBB of Eastern North Carolina has seen an increase in puppy scam reports of online "breeders" out of Durham, Cary, Wake Forest and Greenville.

In three years, BBB received nearly 16,000 complaints and Scam Tracker reports about businesses selling puppies.

The ads can include listings from people who claim to be breeders or just distraught about having to find a new home for their dog. After promising delivery of the pet, "unexpected problems" like shipping issues or pet insurance roadblocks can arise, forcing buyers to have to wire more money.

"Scammers love to try to take advantage of people when they are in high emotion situations," says Mallory Wojciechowski, president, and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. "The excitement of buying a new pet can cloud good judgment, and victims can be hurt financially and emotionally when they realize they have lost their money along with hopes for a new pet."

The BBB suggests some tips to make sure you're not a victim:

  • Try to meet your potential pet in person.
  • Never send money to companies or people you don't know and trust.
  • Do an internet search for the picture of the pet you are considering.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting or purchasing.
  • Check out the website.
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