PENSACOLA — Better Business Bureau received alerts from three consumers that went online to purchase puppies at the following Netherlands websites: rubygreatdanes.ga/, t-boneboxergang.ga, and murrayachieboxers.ga/. Two of these were still active at the time this warning was issued.
Consumers said each site provided a different contact phone number, but all three gave the same physical address, that of a legitimate breeder in Panama City called Roman Empire Yorkies.
REY received phone calls when the consumers didn’t receive their puppy. In another, more intrusive incident, a consumer who had driven six hours to "pick up their puppy" pulled up in front of the owner's home.
According to REY, potential buyers said the scammer had all the answers to their questions. For example, when they asked the scammer, "Why is your name different than the one I found by searching the address?" the scammer said it was their sister who breeds Yorkshire terriers, but she has so much room on her property she is allowing them to also house the puppies for sale from the website.
One victim lost $1,900, the second lost $800, and the third called BBB to learn more about the business before sending any money. The BBB told him the address didn’t match what they had been told and that it was most likely a scam.
Always check with the BBB before sending money electronically or by gift/pre-paid cards.
Puppy scams are carried out using all types and all breeds of animals.
Here are six tips to avoid pet buying fraud:
Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
Never pay a stranger with a money order, wire through Western Union or MoneyGram, with gift/pre-paid cards, or through social media apps like Venmo or PayPal (if your debit card is attached to your PayPal account).
Buyers should always use a credit card in case they need to dispute the charges.
Research prices for the breed being adopted. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, it could be a fraudulent offer.
Verify the sellers’ information including their name, the business name, address, phone number, etc. Just because the website or an invoice includes this information, it doesn’t mean that the information is legitimate.
Consider local animal shelters and Humane Society animals instead of shopping online. There are many local ones needing good homes.
Victims may check out BBB's Puppy Scam study published in June, and share their experiences with BBB and others at BBB.org/ScamTracker.