Pensacola, Fla. – When you think of scams, you think of victims that lost money to a scammer, but in this situation a business owner is also being victimized by the scammer.
Your Better Business Bureau has been alerted by 3 consumers that went online to purchase puppies at the following websites: rubygreatdanes.ga/, t-boneboxergang.ga, and murrayachieboxers.ga/. At release time, two of these were still active. Further investigation shows that all 3 websites are registered in the Netherlands.
Consumers that have contacted BBB regarding these sites indicate that each provided a different contact phone number but all 3 gave the same physical address, that of a legitimate breeder in Panama City . . . . Roman Empire Yorkies.
BBB has been in contact with the owners of Roman Empire Yorkies. They indicated they were aware of the scam because they had received phone calls (consumer was able to match the address with their real phone number) when the consumers didn’t receive their puppy. In another, more intrusive incident, they had a consumer pull up in front of their home who had driven 6 hours to ‘pick up their puppy.’
The owner also said that when talking to the potential buyers the scammer had all the answers to their questions (example: ‘Why is your name different than the one I found by searching the address?’ – the scammer informed them that it was their sister who breeds Yorkshire Terriers but she has so much room on her property she is allowing them to also house the puppies for sale from the website).
From the reports provided to BBB, consumers are from Kentucky and Texas. One victim lost $1,900, the second lost $800, and the third called BBB before sending money to learn more about the business. We were able to inform him that the address didn’t match what they had been told and that it was most likely a scam. We also learned from the owner of Roman Empire Yorkies that other states have victims as well, including California.
BBB cautions anyone wishing to bring any type of animal into their home via the internet and to always check with your BBB before sending money electronically or by gift/pre-paid cards. Referred to as Puppy Scams, this fraud is carried out with all types and all breeds of animals.
How To Avoid This Scam:
• Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
• Never pay a stranger with a money order, wire through Western Union or MoneyGram, with gift/pre-paid cards, or through social media apps like Venmo or PayPal (if your debit card is attached to your PayPal account).
• Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.
• Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent offer.
• Verify the sellers’ information including their name, the business name, address, phone number, etc. Just because the website or an invoice includes this information doesn’t mean that the information is legitimate.
• Consider your local animal shelters and Humane Society instead of shopping online. There are many animals needing good homes locally.
For additional information check out BBB’s Puppy Scam Study that was published in June of this year.
If you have been a victim of this scam, share your experience with BBB and others at BBB.org/ScamTracker.