It happens to the best of us: You see that face and you're hooked.
"You see that cute puppy that you've been wanting and it's an impulse buy because they've tugged at your heartstrings," said Krista Ferndelli of the Better Business Bureau.
But don't let them tug at your purse strings. Ferndelli said a new study by the organization found that nearly 80 percent of sponsored ads that show up when you search for pets are scams. There are about 22 complaints like this into the Denver Better Business Bureau.
"So they just think, ‘this is just one of those simple transactions,’ not realizing that the picture of that cute puppy is just a fake picture copied from somewhere else and the website is out of the country," she said.
Most of these scams are centered in West Africa and collect money through Western Union and MoneyGram outlets.
"I would never do business with somebody that's unwilling to meet you in person or to let you actually pick up the puppy yourself,” Ferndelli said.
Ferndelli is in the process of buying a dog from an online breeder herself. She said something else to look out for is price.
"Anything that looks out of that range especially if it's exceptionally inexpensive to get the type of puppy you're looking for is another red flag," she noted.
Maya Brusseau with the Dumb Friends League, asked why even risk it?
"You can find the perfect animal from an animal shelter or even a rescue,” she said.
Right now, the organization has more than 700 animals in its care, and 250 are up for adoption.
"We have animals of all ages, sizes breeds, temperaments so it's a chance for you to come in with your family and be able to actually meet that animal and make sure that animal is the right fit for your family,” Brusseau said.
Ferndelli said the bottom line is - do your research.
"Don't let go of that dream of having that perfect dog,” she said. “Just make sure you buy from someone reputable and don't just pull the trigger online because you saw a cute photo.”
If you a victim of this kind of scam you can file a report with the BBB or Pet Scams.
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