News / Vancouver

B.C. woman loses $800 in online puppy scam

Better Business Bureau warns buyers to never wire money to strangers.

One of the pit bulls a Nova Scotia “breeder” promised a B.C. woman.

Contributed

One of the pit bulls a Nova Scotia “breeder” promised a B.C. woman.

A B.C. woman is warning pet owners to buy their furry companions locally after being scammed for $800 last week.

Stephanie Kilbreath of 108 Mile Ranch had been scouring Kijiji a few weeks back, looking for puppies for her and her son and some friends. She came across three different ads for two pit bulls and a Maltese, all from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The “breeder” reportedly had just lost her daughter and wanted to find them a good home. The only catch was Kilbreath had to pay $800 for the dogs’ flight.

It didn’t seem like a scam at first, she admitted.

“I saw the pit bulls live on webcam and saw the papers,” she told Metro. “When I sent the money, she said they were on the plane and that they’ll be on my doorstep at 2 p.m.”

About two hours before their scheduled arrival, Kilbreath received a text from the breeder that the pit bulls were at Edmonton International Airport and that staff wouldn’t release them unless she paid $1,700 in pet insurance and another $160 for dog crates. Suspicious of things, she made a quick call to confirm.

“They weren’t there,” said Kilbreath.

Evan Kelly, a senior communications advisor with the Better Business Bureau, said his organization has received several calls about this scam recently, from people who have lost money to a fraudulent puppy sale or who have stopped short of sending the funds.

“The ad often includes a sob story and they simply want to get rid of the puppies for free – all you have to pay for is the flight of the dogs to reach your destination,” he said.

Never wiring money to strangers and always paying with a credit card or PayPal are some things to keep in mind.

“Go to a reputable breeder if you’re looking for a specific type of animal,” he added. “See if you can go to the breeder and inspect their facilities. Check out the mother and father dogs. Check references.”

Kelly noted there are a host of fake websites out there, but many look legitimate with their plethora of cute photos. But he said there’s an easy way to check if it’s a hoax.

“They have these social media plug-ins that don’t actually work and they don’t have a contact number. That’s a huge red flag,” he said.

Another tool to sort out the scammers from the real breeders, according to Kelly, is to do a reverse Google search image.

“I searched one yesterday and found one of the pictures all over the place. The company claims (the dog) was 11 weeks old. These pictures were from six months ago.”

As for Kilbreath, she said it’s a scam that could happen to anyone.

“Make sure you know the person and see the animal face to face,” she said.

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