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Tri-State resident loses hundreds in pet scam

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QUINCY (WGEM) -- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says every year they see people get scammed when trying to buy a new pet.

Those numbers have boomed as people spend more time at home during the pandemic.

Shelter Animals Count, a national database that has tracked adoptions during the pandemic found that there were 26,000 more pet adoptions in 2020 than in the year before.

Don O’Brien with the Quincy BBB said the scammers use a fake website or Facebook page to lure people in.

Robbie Perry from Mendon, Illinois, opened up about his story.

He said he logged onto Facebook one day and saw what looked like a dog breeder trying to sell some puppies.

After spending $500 to get a new pit bull, the company was asking for more money, and he knew something was wrong.

He said the reason he was looking to get a new puppy was because the family currently has an older service dog that helps his wife daily.

He says she has a disability, so when he found a Facebook page advertising puppies for sale, he wanted to capitalize on that.

But it was too good to be true.

“It was $50 at a time up to $450, then they told me it was going to be $500 and we were still okay with that, Perry said. "But by the time they got the money for the dog they told us it was going to be $3,500 to ship it and I told them that's not possible, that's not what you told me.”

Perry said the Better Business Bureau is looking at his case, but they say it will be difficult to track the scammers down and he most likely won’t get his money back.

Don O'Brien with the BBB said a lot of these websites look real and more people can get scammed like the Perry family.

“There weren’t any red flags until it came time for that animal to be shipped and that’s when they asked for $3,000," O'Brien said. "That’s part of that scheme. Initially they ask for a certain amount, but then they need more for shots or more for an expensive crate."

O’Brien said it’s always a good idea to go see any pets you’re thinking about buying in-person, before you pay any money.

If a seller says that’s not possible because of COVID-19 restrictions, ask to see the animals over Zoom or Facetime instead.

The BBB says most often these scammers don’t own the animals they have pictures of, so they won’t be able to show you any in person or over a video call.

Officials with the BBB also suggest using a website called whois.com.

With this site you can enter the web address and it will tell you how old it is.

They say if a website is brand new, that’s often a sign that it’s a scam.

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Isabella Rossi

Multimedia Journalist

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