Troopers urge pet buyers to be cautious of new puppy scam

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The New York State Police have released tips and advice for buying pets after receiving multiple complaints of people scammed out of hundreds of dollars.

Authorities said the victims reported answering classified ads that featured photos of the dog breed in question. The ads also required an up-front deposit. Once the money was paid, authorities said the victims were provided an address to pick up their new puppy — but the address was not real.

Warning signs:

• The deposit is required via payment apps like Zelle or CashApp.

• All communication with the “breeder” takes place via text.

• An address for pickup is not provided until after the deposit is made.

• The “breeder” sends stock photos of the dog breed instead of pictures of the actual puppy.

• The price is too good to be true. Purebred dogs are expensive, and any purebred sold at deeply discounted prices is likely a scam.

The state police and the American Kennel Club recommend doing your research before committing to buying an animal. You can use the internet to research the “breeder” and other reputable breeders to compare prices. They also advise using a Google image search to see if the picture you’re sent is unique or just a stock photo. Meeting the animal in person first is the best idea, authorities said, but it might not be possible during the pandemic. They recommend having a video chat with the breeder and the animal. If the seller refuses a video chat, that might be a sign of a scam. Pet buying scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at the website reportfraud.ftc.gov.

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