ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) — A new Better Business Bureau study shows pet scams appear to be on the decline, but monetary losses are climbing.
Scam victims suffered an average loss of $850 in 2022, which is up 60 percent since 2017.
Total losses are expected to exceed $2 million, which is down by a third since the peak of more than $3 million during the pandemic in 2020-2021.
Pet scams historically make up a quarter of all online shopping fraud reported to BBB. It’s on track to be about 18 percent this year.
BBB said scammers appeal to emotion, luring people in with fake websites and promises of cute puppies before asking for more money for shipping or special crates.
People who tried to purchase pets without seeing them in person, use hard-to-track payment methods like payment apps, and accept extra charges like shipping insurance or special cages are at an increased risk of being scammed, according to BBB.
Yorkies, Dachshunds and French Bulldogs make up nearly 30 percent of all puppy scams, according to reports to BBB.
Puppy scam cases are hard to prosecute because the perpetrators are often outside of the country, and the websites appear and vanish quickly.
BBB offered the following tips for researching puppy sellers:
- See pets in-person before paying any money.
- Try to set up a video call to view the animal.
- Conduct a reverse image search on photos attached to ads.
- Research the breed to figure out the average market price.
- Check out a local animal shelter for pets to meet in person before adopting.
If you are the victim of a puppy scam, the BBB suggests you contact:
- Better Business Bureau – BBB Scam Tracker to report a fraud online.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – reportfraud.ftc.gov to file a complaint online or call 877-FTC-Help.
- Your credit card issuer – report the incident if you shared your credit card number, even if the transaction was not completed. Monitor your statements and if you suspect fraud, ask for a refund.
- Petscams.com – petscams.com/report-pet-scam-websites tracks complaints, catalogs puppy scammers and endeavors to get fraudulent pet sales websites taken down.