We thought we were getting a new puppy, but instead, we were scammed out of $750 and the puppy didn't exist. Oh, how do these people live with themselves?! After falling victim to a gut-wrenching puppy scam, and I'll share every step in the process so the same thing doesn't happen to you.

It started on one of the puppy-finder websites one night as I was half asleep, scrolling through my phone.  The first bit of advice -- only scroll when you are awake and have all of your wits about you.  I saw a cute puppy and sent an email inquiry about her that night, and the scammers responded the next day.

They sent 9 incredibly cute pictures of the puppy I was interested in, along with a detailed description that included her birth date, temperament, personality, and ability to interact with kids. After finding it hard to match with the puppy of our dreams, this situation had promise and I was hooked.

I wish I could show the pictures of this dog to you because you would have wanted her too.  She was too cute!  But the pictures had probably been stolen from another website and that would open up another layer of trouble, so I'll spare us all.  I completely believed the email because it followed all the right steps in a typical puppy-finding process and I didn't suspect that the people behind it were pure evil.  By the time they asked me to transfer money via Zelle, I was so far in emotionally I didn't suspect that it was a scam.  I was buying a puppy.

Losing $750 was bad enough, but it could have been worse.  After I paid the initial amount, the plot thickened.  After receiving my payment, the seller said he dropped the dog off at a shipping location and I would be getting an email from the shipper with details about how and when to pick up my new puppy at the airport.  Within the hour, I had that email from the shipper that confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed a scam.  The email said the crate that the seller dropped off wasn't going to meet the airline's standards, and a new crate would be needed.  There were two upgrade options that I could choose from -- one that cost $1100, and another that would provide better ventilation and would cost $1300.  I would need to transfer the money before the puppy could be shipped, and they promised to refund the full amount once the puppy was delivered.  The four-figure charge would be a security deposit, more or less.  I didn't send it.

The worst part was not losing money or having my high puppy hopes crushed.  The worst part was having to tell my daughter that the puppy she was so excited about wouldn't be coming home after all.  Ugh!  How do you explain to an 11-year old that some people are horrible?  These unscrupulous jerks used super cute photos of an innocent puppy to reel me in and rip me off and they preyed on my emotions to siphon hundreds into their criminal bank accounts.  And I doubt that I was the only person they scammed that day. Oh, and they kept the scheme going even when I confronted them about the fishyness and told them it was starting to sound a whole lot like a common puppy scam.  Even then, they swore it was 100% legit.  Add liar to that thief-heavy resume.

I filed a police report locally and submitted a fraud claim with the bank so it's all under investigation. I hope they add my case to the hundreds of others that are out there and catch these guys.

The American Kennel Club offers tips on spotting puppy scams HERE.

Jen Austin - Townsquare Media
Jen Austin - Townsquare Media

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