Better Business Bureau warns of surging puppy scam ahead of the holidays

Online puppy scams have been making a resurgence ahead of the holiday season.
News 12 warned viewers of the scam over the summer. The scam tricks online pet buyers into shelling out money for heavy upfront costs such as shipping.
It has been skyrocketing since the pandemic started, and the Better Business Bureau is issuing a new warning in fear of a holiday surge.
"Certainly it is the gift-giving season, so people are looking for that very special pet for their family. But these very, very prevalent scams, we see them every day," says Melissa Companick, of the Better Business Bureau.
Heather Sommers is one such victim. Sommers lost $900 trying to buy a dog that didn't exist. Sommers had picked a corgi puppy out from the website of a so-called breeder who claimed they would ship Sommers the dog.
Sommers realized something was wrong after she sent her money the breeder and they demanded $1,000 more. She filed a police report, and police say the breeder and the dog don't exist.
"We did what I thought were all the right things," says Sommers. "We asked for proof of the puppy. We were sent additional photos. We were even sent a video of the puppy sitting. Which you’re told to do. You’re told to ask for more proof than the picture that they posted."
Companick advises asking online breeders or a Zoom chat to present the animal to you.
"Anybody can send a photo, that doesn't mean that the animal is right there," says Companick.
It's advised to check the breeder's website to make sure there's an address and a phone number. You should also do a WHOIS search to see how long the site has been around. 
Potential pet buyers can check references using the Better Business Bureau and your local Department of Consumer Affairs. Referrals from a veterinarian or a local breed club are also helpful for finding a reputable breeder.
Sommers offered her own tip: If you're buying a pet, do it in person.
"I definitely learned if you can’t physically go see the puppy it's not a good puppy for you," says Sommers.