No puppy for Christmas: Online pet scams proliferate

The puppy was supposed to be a Christmas present for her husband, Bryan.

But after Lauren Case, a registered nurse from Warren, Arkansas, plunked down $850 via a cash app for a cute teacup Yorkie named Rosy she saw online, she began to get suspicious.

She had paid an initial $600 by Zelle, a payment app that she had never used before but that her bank confirmed as legitimate. But then the supposed breeder asked for another $250 for a “nanny” to hand-carry the dog to her on an airplane. Finally, Case put the website address into a search engine and found lots of complaints.

“It was something I really wanted, so I ignored the little voice in my head,” she said, kicking herself for sending money before doing the checking.

There will be no puppy in the Case household this Christmas.

Despite numerous pleas, Case never got the Yorkie or her money back. The website then disappeared, Case said, only to pop up later with the same puppy pictures.  

In retrospect, she said, there were warning signs. There was no phone number and several of the words on the site were misspelled.

“You don’t think someone’s going to screw you over, but they do,” she said in a phone interview.

Case has filed a complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, which is looking into the allegations. Similar complaints have skyrocketed across the country, boosted in part by more people looking to adopt pets during the pandemic. Attorneys general in numerous states have launched…

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