Broken puppy promises: How to avoid scams when trying to adopt a pet online

Scams

(WTNH) — Who could resist that face? Kristin Kossack and her kids sure couldn’t. They had been looking for a new Pomsky – a Pomeranian crossed with a Husky – because their dog Oliver had passed away.

Kristin Kossack told News 8, “This picture came up of this pup that had the same name as the pup that had passed. So now we feel like, ‘ahh, Oliver. This is the one.'”

The bad news was, the website she looked at, QCPomskies, said Oliver was in Texas. The good news was, he was much cheaper than Pomskies in Connecticut. Luke Frey of the Better Business Bureau says a price that’s too good to be true is the first sign of a scam. First, buyers need to make sure the dog really exists.

Frey said, “A great way to make sure it’s actually a real animal is ask to Skype and see that animal alive, even if it’s on a screen.”

The Pomsky site did look professional with both photos and videos of the adorable Oliver.

Kossack said, “We were already in love. We were on board completely. I said, ‘How do we proceed?'”

They told her to use online payment apps, but she kept getting error messages. They then prompted her to go and buy gift cards.

$800 worth of gift cards, which she bought and texted them photographs. That is the second sign of a scam. A credit card is your best bet.

Frey said, “And scammers know that. If you put it on a credit card, and it ends up being a scam, you can go back to your credit card company usually and get those funds back.”

Once these guys got the gift cards, they sent another email saying there was a problem: “The Insurance and Quarantine service center for which is the first Port of check-out requires an insurance certification.” And that was going to cost $1,500 more dollars.

Kossack said she was told, “It’s completely refundable. However, if you do not pay it, the pup will be put in a quarantine and you’ll be prosecuted for abandonment.”

Under that pressure, she sent another $1,500 in gift cards.

Kossack added, “Two hours later, yet another email came to solicit money for a ‘ventilated crate.’ At which point I did say, ‘No further money will be coming.'”

The BBB says that’s what puppy scammers do – they keep asking for more. It makes the scam one of the most expensive out there. But there’s an easy step you can take.

“Check our BBB scam tracker,” Frey said. “Scammers tend to use that same name and same company name over and over again and keep taking people in scams.”

Sure enough, QCPomskies and BluePrint Pet Movers still have websites up and operating. The hardest part for Kristin was telling her kids about the scam on the day the puppy was supposed to ship.

“‘Where’s the puppy? Are we getting the puppy? Are we going to the airport?’ And I said, ‘I have to tell you something,’ and I pulled over the car and I said, ‘Somebody played a very nasty trick on the family.'”

Now they can’t afford a new puppy, but they hope nobody else gets fooled by the same scam.

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