(WIVB)– The latest pet scam is linked to classified ads in an Upstate New York news website, people see the picture of a cute little puppy and can’t help themselves.
State Police tell us, they pay a deposit in a way the money can’t be followed and it is gone.
For people locked in their homes for nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the thought of a cute, furry little puppy might be too much to resist.
Scammers took full advantage and posted bogus classified ads on a Syracuse news blog site.
“They were shown pictures of the puppies that they were looking to purchase, and then they were asked to pay a deposit in the ballpark of a few hundred dollars.”Trooper Jennifer Fleishman, New York State Police
State Police Trooper Jen Fleishman told News 4 they received eight complaints from consumers in the Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo areas who had answered the bogus puppy advertisments and sent the money.
Trooper Fleishman said “The buyer was then asked to pick up to puppies at a location in St. Lawrence County area, except the address turned out to be bogus and that is when they found out that they had been scammed.”
Fleishman told us, all of the correspondence was either email or text.
Melanie McGovern of the Better Business Bureau says, when buying a pet, you have to see more than a picture.
“Can you do FaceTime with me, can you do a Zoom call? That is another way to see if it is real or not. If they are telling you no, or making up a bunch of excuses, that is a telltale sign that it is a fraud.”Melanie McGovern, Better Business Bureau Upstate New York
Trooper Fleishman also told us, the scammers also insisted on victims paying through means that are hard to follow such as payment apps, such as Zelle, Cash App or even gift cards.
McGovern says, your best protection is with plastic.
“The best thing to do is say, ‘Can I pay you with a credit card, can I have that protection, can I have a receipt? Anything like that.”Melanie McGovern, Better Business Bureau Upstate New York
State Police also suspect these scams are originating overseas because of grammatical errors and avoiding phone calls which could give them up.
Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.