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Problem Solvers: Use caution when buying a puppy online

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 08:24:15-05

TULSA, Okla. — Buying a pet online could come with a hefty price tag and no furry friend.

“My daughter had wanted a French bulldog, and so we we're looking online, and she actually found a website that was reasonably priced for us because they tend to be very expensive," Robyn Nearn said.

Nearn is from California and called the Problem Solvers about the breeder because the business address is listed in Tulsa. She’d hoped to give her daughter a new French bulldog puppy named “Mac” listed on

“It looks reliable and I looked through the website and there was information and pictures and it looked pretty straightforward," Nearn said.

The online seller sent her the contract, instructions and payment information. It all seemed to be going smoothly until she got a call from the transport company demanding more money.

“Then, on the morning of transportation Wednesday December 9," Nearn said. "I had another email from them saying, I needed to purchase a specially ventilated crate, an electronically ventilating crate."

Nearn already paid for transport, as well as a “lap nanny” for the dog. She knew she didn’t need a crate and when the breeder wouldn't answer the phone, Nearn knew something wasn’t right.

“They just need $400 more for the crate. And I said, you were the contract, said you were to provide the crate," Nearn said. "I already paid for the puppy. I paid for the transport. You can go ahead and pay the 400 and send the puppy. And she never sent the puppy. She never responded back.”

The Problem Solvers called Royal Frenchies several times, but no one picked up. The Better Business Bureau has seen these kinds of fraud skyrocket since 2019. Complaints coming into the BBB tripled in 2020.

“So consumers need to be aware that there are a lot of scam artists out there,” said Amie Mitchell with the Tulsa BBB.

So, how can you spot a fraudster?

“You'll see a cute puppy online you pay the deposit of let's say $100, up to $800 depending on the dog, and then all of a sudden you get a message," Mitchell said. "'Oh, I need you to pay an additional $1,000 for a special crate and then $1,000 for additional insurance and $1,000 for shipping.' So, that's a red flag.”

Also, do a quick reverse image search of the puppy picture.

“You can click on the image, copy it, put it into the Google paste bar and hit go and see how many times that picture has been used on different websites," Mitchell said. "If it comes up on multiple websites that adorable little puppy you're looking at is probably from a scam website.”

Always check for complaints against the seller.

“Check with the Better Business Bureau because this particular company we were alerted in July," Mitchell said. "And since July, they've had 10 complaints that have gone on answered, and these 10 consumers have lost over $16,000.”

The good news, if you pay with a credit card, you might be able to get your money back. If you pay with a cash app like Nearn, you may not be so lucky.

“I’m waiting to see if my bank will accept the disputed charges but I'm, I'm not holding my breath," Nearn said.

“If they're pushing you to pay one particular way," Mitchell said. "There's probably a reason, any legitimate seller is going to give you multiple options on ways to pay. And one of those should be a credit card.”

Several people contacted the Problem Solvers saying they too bought puppies from fake online sellers claiming to be out of Tulsa.

If you’re looking for a new pet try to see the dog in person before purchase or adopt.

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