BBB: Beware of “Puppy Scams” during coronavirus pandemic

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VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) — When it comes to scams, most people think of electronics or high-end clothing, but as the Better Business Bureau reports, during the coronavirus pandemic even pets post a threat.

The BBB says there were more pet adoption scams in April than in the first three months of the year combined. The majority of the scams are aimed at those searching for a dog. Some scams even claim the dog has been vaccinated against COVID-19, a treatment that doesn’t exist.

“Scammers really know how to pull the strings,” said Oana Schneider with the Tri-State Better Business Bureau. “We’ve seen so many twists on this scam. They tell you the dog has super strength and it’s amazing and will never get sick, but in the end they tell you it can’t make it to your address because it died in transit.”

“Please do not do anything online that you can’t see,” said Amanda Coburn with the Vanderburgh Humane Society.

One way to prevent falling for a scam is to adopt your pet from a local animal shelter where financial transactions are secure, like the VHS. The VHS is now offering in-person visitations. The number of people allowed inside at one time will be limited and everyone must wear a mask. The organization also posts up-to-date pictures and information for all their available animals on their website.

“We got applications the whole time we were closed and we had to catch up on those and that’s great. We do want to remind people of course that when you go back to work, make sure this is a dog you’re going to keep with your normal schedule, not just your quarantine schedule,” said Coburn.
“The number one thing especially if you are purchasing animals, whether you’re adopting or from a breeder, if you have not laid eyes on that animal or puppy and held it in your hands, don’t give them you’re money.”

“Scammers are taking advantage of that. They know you’re looking for a forever friend. So just try to take 5 minutes of your time to do a little bit of research. It can save you so much money and so many headaches,” said Schneider.

Coburn says the VHS is one of many nonprofits hurting financially due to the coronavirus pandemic. To help, you can make a donation by clicking here.

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(This story was originally published on May 12, 2020)

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