There is nothing quite like seeing a child’s face light up after receiving a brand new puppy on Christmas morning. The giggles that fill the room are what the season of giving is all about. Getting a new best friend on Christmas Day is one of the best feelings in the world.
Unfortunately, not everyone is filled with the Christmas spirit during this time of year. According to an LA city attorney, online fraudsters are implementing puppy scams to take advantage of shoppers during the holiday season.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer recently announced that a “substantial spike in puppy scams” has occurred in the months leading up to the holidays. His office has determined that fake breeders sell puppies online to parents hoping to surprise their children on Christmas morning with a furry new friend.
There’s just one issue: The puppies don’t actually exist. The listings are fake. By the time parents discover that they’ve been duped, it’s too late. They’re left with an empty wallet and nothing to show for it on Christmas morning.
“Imagine how disappointed a child might be when they have gotten the expectation that this puppy is on the way,” Feuer said, “only to have those hopes dashed when there is no pet at all, and their parents have been ripped off.”
According to Feuer, the puppy scam originates online, where pictures of “available” puppies are advertised on Facebook and Craigslist among other platforms. The fraudsters sit back and wait until a Christmas shopper inquiries about one of the listings.
After communication has been established, the scammer will request payment in full before providing a fake tracking number which can be followed on a fake website. After some time, the scammer will contact the customer informing them that there has been “an issue” and request additional payment to cover certain costs.
People have lost hundreds and even thousands of dollars in puppy scams. “Those cuddly pictures that people will see online might steal your heart, but the criminals behind these puppy scams are after one thing: they want to steal your money,” Feuer said.
Like all scams, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true at all. According to Feuer, some puppies were listed for adoption for approximately $122, which included vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and micro-chipping.
Los Angeles Animal Services general manager Brenda Barnette said: “I don’t know anywhere in the world that you can get that much in one lovable little package for that small amount of money.”
If you want to purchase a puppy for a friend or family member, understand that it’s going to cost you, especially if you are buying one online in which there are transportation and prevention fees. Buy from a local, reputable breeder so you know exactly what you are getting. Or, better yet, adopt a pup from an animal shelter!