STATESVILLE, N.C. — Jennifer Holland wanted a French bulldog for her daughter. She found one online. The seller, who turned out to be a scammer, sent her videos, saying the puppy’s name was Joker.
"She sounded like a legitimate breeder and everything. Had all the credentials," Holland told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke.
Holland said the scammer wanted her to pay a lot of the money in Bitcoin and even had her go to a Bitcoin ATM in Hickory. But, Holland said, the scammer came up with one hiccup after another, reasons why Holland needed to spend more money before she could get the puppy.
"They needed money for insurance," Holland said. "They needed an electric crate, and they needed money for it." By the end, Holland told Stoogenke she had spent $9,500.
Then, she said, the scammer wanted $400 more for vet bills, and Holland told the scammer, "'I can't do that.' I said, 'Y'all done taken everything I have.' I said, 'I don't have any more money to give.'"
Then, Holland said, the scammer threatened her, telling her she was breaking the law, abandoning a pet. By that point, she realized it was a scam.
“I really wanted to get her a puppy.” Holland choked back tears as she spoke with Stoogenke. “I’m just hurt that people take advantage of just innocent people, and I care. I love animals, and I just wanted one so bad.”
The Better Business Bureau started tracking online puppy scams in 2017. It recently did a study and found those cons were up almost 40%.
A lot of scams play on your emotions, and this is one of them. Here is a list of ways to help protect yourself:
- Obviously, it’s usually best to get a dog in person. Think about rescuing one.
- If you really want to buy a dog online, research the seller.
- Be suspicious if the seller wants you to pay using cash, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers or Bitcoin.
- Don’t trust the picture or video of the dog you see online. You don’t know where the seller got it.
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