Online puppy scam resurges during pandemic
With people turning more and more to online shopping, an old scam is getting new life during the pandemic.
Mayra Ortiz recently decided to get a second dog. Her son is immune-compromised, so she opted to buy one online at SmartAmericanBullies.com. She picked out a dog for $650, which was supposed to include shipping to Newark, but ultimately ended up out more than $2,000.
"I paid for the dog. Then they asked me to pay $1,400 more, supposedly for insurance," she says. Ortiz then got an email that said the dog was stranded at an airport in the Midwest and she would need to pay over $2,000 for an air-conditioned crate. That's when she realized something was off.
"You're breaking kids' heart, first of all, and second of all you're taking money away from people that work hard to earn what they have," says Ortiz.
The Better Business Bureau says there are a number of things wrong with buying a puppy online. It has been warning about this scam for years, but says reports to their scam tracker have been skyrocketing since the pandemic began.
"They're going online and looking to purchase puppies online, which we would really strongly advise against," says Melissa Companick, of the Better Business Bureau. "From what we're hearing and what people are reporting, the puppies just aren't there. All you're going to do is lose money."
There have been several complaints against Smart American Bullies since it went online in February. People say they paid for puppies that never arrived. The Better Business Bureau says the scammers are likely overseas - meaning victims like Ortiz have little chance of getting their money back.
Still, Ortiz wants to warn others.
"I just don't want people to go through it, to go through the same thing that I went through, because it's just not right," says Ortiz.