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Pet Fraud Study: “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers”, released September 12, 2017

Updates and New Information since then

Complaint numbers and trends

Updated BBB press release from December 12, 2019

Notes complaints to BBB about puppies were

2017:  4664

2018:  6007

2019:  6466        (projected)


Payment methods

          At the time of the study payments for nonexistent pets were almost wholly by Western Union and MoneyGram, and if people were determined to buy a pet sight unseen BBB recommended only doing so paying with credit card.


  • Many complaints reflect victims now paying with gift cards
  • com reports that more people are paying the crooks with banking app Zelle
  • Some web sites by pet scammers now allow a buyer to enter credit cards. But there is an “error,” those don’t process, and then victims are asked to pay by a different mechanism.  And the crooks have just stolen a credit card they can now use for other illegal activity.


BBB is only aware of one other law enforcement effort since the study was released, an arrest of a Cameroonian in Minneapolis.  TV coverage here.

Other useful information

AARP story on pet scams from 12/4/2019

30 minute story in South Africa


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