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Online Puppy Scam Lures Animal Lovers With Pets That Don’t Exist

BERKELEY (KPIX) — The Better Business Bureau is warning people about a new scam targeting animal lovers looking to buy a pet on the Internet.

Craigslist posts plenty of ads featuring pets for sale, but the Better Business Bureau says up to 80% of them are fake with pictures poached from other sites.

Miniature poodles sit in a cart. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

Jarrod Wise works for the BBB.

“These scammers will go way under value for the actual breed of the pet,” he says.

After a victim wires money, there are suddenly add-ons, like crates or medical insurance, and if the buyer tries to get out of it, the scammer scares them back.

“They’ll say, oh, animal abandonment, the FBI’s going to be at your door, so there’s that constant fear factor going on and also the worry that that poor pet may be caught in transit,” says Wise.

Often, the pet doesn’t even exist.

The Better Business Bureau held an event at the Berkeley Humane Society shelter to call attention to another option for folks looking for a pet: adopting from a local shelter.

“Looking for love online should never start with a credit card or a money order or a wire transfer, it just will never end well,” says Jeffrey Zerwekh of the Berkeley Human Society.

And the BBB says the best advice to avoid a scam is to meet the animal in person, which has other perks. You learn something about them and get to know their personality.

The BBB hopes its new report will spur law enforcement to work harder to stop these scams, which often originate in the West African country of Cameroon.

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