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Alert: Alarming rise in fraudulent online pet ads

Alert: Alarming rise in fraudulent online pet ads

"It's a sophisticated scam and it's been happening for years."

Yes, she's right about that. Felicia Thompson is with the Phoenix Better Business Bureau and says the so-called "Pet Scam" is getting worse. In fact, the BBB recently issued a report called "How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers."

"It's unfortunate that our report found that at least 80 percent of the ads you see online while searching for pets or pet sales is likely fraudulent."

Think about that -- 80 percent. That's a huge number.

In a previous 3 On Your Side report regarding the "Pet Scam," Diana Alvarez explained how she was duped out of $150 for a dog she found advertised online. However, after sending in that money, she knew something was wrong when the so-called seller asked for more money which was supposed to go to delivering the animal.

"It's so bogus, it's ridiculous. I didn't even catch it."

Alvarez wasn't the only pet scam victim profiled by 3 On Your Side.

Jesus Durazo was also ripped off. After choosing two bulldogs from a website called TK Bulldogs. Jesus used Western Union to wire the scammer $699 only to be told later that more money was needed before the dogs could be shipped.

"I got an email saying that I only paid insurance for one dog and there are two dogs on board. So, I sent another $875.

Thompson says she's not surprised at the number of victims out there because the scammers are so convincing.

"They are using images and information from legitimate pet sales sites and they're making it seem they have the pet to deliver to you and will deliver it to you with just a few upfront fees."

According to the report, French bulldogs and Yorkshire terriers are the most popular breeds featured by scammers. Thompson adds;

"People are falling for it because it's very emotional and visual."

With the holiday season quickly approaching, a new pet might be on someone's wish list. However, Thompson says you've now been warned.

"If someone asks you for lots of money up front, they don't want to meet up in person, they say maybe the pet can't be delivered for some reason or another until you pay these fees, you want to really look into who you're working with and checking all your resources."

Remember, if you're looking to buy a pet, just remember two things: Physically see and play with the pet in person and don't rely on cute pictures over the internet. And number two, never wire money. If you're asked to wire money, it's a scam.

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