Pet scams online rise during stay-home order    

Heartbreak for a Houston woman who was trying to buy her family a puppy. She says she was scammed out of hundreds of dollars and wants to warn others.

The Better Business Bureau says pet scams are spiking right now because people are looking for furry companions while they're stuck at home and afraid to go to shelters during the pandemic.

"The girls are excited and every day they ask me, did you hear from the puppy guy? Did you hear from the puppy guy? And as it went on for a week, you could just see their little faces they were so disappointed," said Cindy Baylor, who tried to buy a Havanese puppy from an online seller.

"He's adorable. The puppy had a name. We could see everything about him," said Baylor.

She says she paid hundreds of dollars through Western Union.

But then the seller asked for $1000 more for a special crate to ship him.

Reacted Baylor, "I said this is not legitimate. This is not a real thing.  And he's like, 'You can trust me, I'm Christian, I don' t lie.'"

Now she says she can't reach the seller or get her money back. The website has since vanished.

"It is very heartbreaking because people want their pets. They see the pictures online and they get a connection with this particular animal. And they never get their puppy or kitten," said Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau.

Napoliello says pet scams are spiking right now.

"Usually the scammer will tell them they need to pay via a cash app or gift card, something like that that is untraceable. So once they start paying that way, then sometimes the scammer will say that additional charges are necessary, like shipping charges or something like that," said Napoliello.

Napoliello says one way to watch out for fraud is to right click and save the photo of the pet onto your computer. Then upload it into Google Images. If the pet appears on other adoption sites, that's a red flag.

Meanwhile, Baylor says she wants to warn others.

"I don't want anybody else to be a victim like I was," said Baylor.
We reached out to the seller but haven't heard back.

If you've been scammed, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.