TULSA, Okla. — It's a scam targeting your wallet and emotions.
Families hoping to adopt a pet, end up losing hundreds, even thousands of dollars, making it one of the most costly schemes.
Less than a month after losing her precious Toby, Donna Lippa was hoping to ease the pain with a new puppy.
"I recently had to put my baby down, he was 13 and I was looking it's hard to find a Shitsu now with the pandemic and everything, so I was looking on websites."
On one of those websites, Donna fell in love with Vixen, and the seller got back to her right away.
"So I sent them $620 and he immediately said he was going to go get the paperwork done to have the dog registered to fly."
A couple of hours later, she received an email.
"Said they need an extra $900 for a climate-controlled crate because of covid and it's an animal."
Donna sent the money, then a few hours later, another email.
"Said we need an additional $500 for your dog to come into your state, it was called a city permit and then I said hmm that doesn't seem right ."
Too late, Donna realized it was a scam, and told the seller she's done sending him money.
"We immediately went back on their website and their website was down. All the tracking information was gone. I called Venmo, they said I'm sorry, we can't give you your funds back. There are no funds in this guy's account, he took them right out ."
It's a scam that's been reported over 3,000 times to the Better Business Bureau in just one year.
Experts blame Covid, isolation, and the desire to have company.
Angie Barnett with the BBB says, "It's heartbreaking when you've spent this money expecting something to bring joy into your house and that's one place Santa just doesn't deliver ."
The Better Business Bureau encourages pet lovers to adopt locally.
But if your heart is set on a purebred from a website, take the photo of the dog and run it through a search engine to see if it's an original.
And check how many other websites come up, so you can compare.
Research the business address and contact information.
And ask a lot of questions. Get documentation. Do what you can to, to avoid any disappointment.
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