The Better Business Bureau warns consumers of an international scheme to sell non-existent puppies and other pets.
BBB warns that the scams are so widespread that anyone searching for a pet online is likely to encounter this fraud.
Tens of thousands of U.S consumers may have fallen victim to the scam.
In a report, officials say coordinated and aggressive law enforcement and increased consumer education to combat the scam.
“These cases can be devastating to families who are waiting for pets that will never come. These are not just a few isolated cases of naïve consumers being taken. This is a highly organized, international scheme focused on one thing – stealing people’s money.”” says Beverly Baskin, president, and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
BBB says most puppy scam victims are hooked into the scam by photos of cuddly terriers, miniature bulldogs, or other puppies; other consumers believed they were paying for kittens, parrots, or other animals to be delivered to their homes.
A consumer from Oakland, California, said she lost nearly $1,000 – and could have lost much more – after agreeing to pay to have a teacup Yorkie shipped from Baltimore to her home.
She contacted the FBI and BBB once she realized she had been scammed.
Similar stories have come from consumers across the United States and in numerous other countries.