Statesville mother says she lost almost $10,000 in online puppy scam

Statesville mother says she lost almost $10,000 in online puppy scam

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.

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"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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