BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Attorney General’s office is warning people about puppy scams.
Just as it sounds, puppy scams are when a person gets tricked into buying a puppy online that doesn’t exist.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan says this type of crime happens all the time.
Jennifer Hiatt of Battle Creek reported a puppy scam to the BBB last March.
“I came on this website and I see this cute little puppy for sale,” Hiatt said.
The website, purebredpitbullhaven.com, no longer exists. But like many similar active sites, the scammers posted pictures of puppies to bait their victims.
“I had it all set up and they wanted me to send two money orders, which should’ve been my first red flag,” she said.
Hiatt sent the scammers $640, money she never got back.
She had never been scammed before. However, Hiatt told News 8 she was slightly blindsided by emotion as they had just said goodbye to their family dog of 12 years.
She told the scammers about their loss during their only phone call.
“As soon as I said anything about putting Junior down and it being a surprise for my boyfriend for us to have a dog for the home, they ran with it,” Hiatt said.
Troy Baker, manager of communications at the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan, said this tactic is commonly used in puppy scams.
“She is a prime example of what happens,” Baker said. “These websites are very slick. They make you fall in love with these cute pictures, prey on your emotions and then they rip you off.”
For Hiatt, the scam didn’t break the bank, but it did break her heart.
“Felt like…losing something all over again,” she said. “Having all of those emotions come back from losing that previous dog.”
Weeks later, the newest addition to their family came running into their life. They got a spunky, happy-go-lucky American Bulldog named John Wick.
Hiatt said she was much more cautious this time around, insisting on meeting the breeder and the dog in person.
“He looked exactly like a puppy we were supposed to get,” she said. “I instantly fell in love with him. I left that day to go to Lansing to go get him and bring him home.”
The BBB has a list of tips to avoid falling victim to puppy scams.
In addition, the organization said it’s important to report this type of scam to them right away.