More 'puppy scams' reported in B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic
Photos of Kim, the puppy Audrey and her husband hoped to adopt, sent by "John" who worked for the fraudulent site.
VANCOUVER -- The Better Business Bureau says yet another British Columbia family has been taken in by the promise of a puppy up for adoption online.
A similar scheme came to CTV News Vancouver’s attention in March, when a Langley family contacted McLaughlin On Your Side after handing over nearly $1,000 to an online pet adoption company.
The Kings were told a miniature dachshund puppy, named Ken, would be shipped to the Abbotsford airport but when they went to pick him up, he wasn’t there. It soon became clear that Ken had never existed, and the photos they’d been shown of an adorable puppy were of someone else’s dog.
Now, the BBB of Mainland B.C. says a couple in Vernon has fallen prey to the same promise, looking for a way to adopt a dog while physically distancing and staying at home.
“Scammers frequently take advantage of the news to find new avenues for targeting victims,” the BBB’s Karla Laird said in a release. “The uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the desire of many Canadians to adopt a pet to help bring joy into their homes has created fertile ground for fraudsters.”
Snowbirds Audrey and her husband had just sold their winter home in the U.S., and found a Cavalier King Charles puppy named Kim online.
“I thought well maybe this is a good time, if we’re not going to be travelling as much, this is a good time to get a dog,” she says. The couple sent an email to King Charles Empire, the company on the site, inquiring about Kim, and spoke to a man named John on the phone.
“He sent a couple of text messages in reply to my questions, and then sent a short video of our puppy. Due to COVID-19, we were aware no flights are travelling across borders, but he insisted that it was no problem, or we could come to him,” Audrey told the BBB in her complaint.
She says she started to suspect something wasn’t quite right when John repeatedly couldn’t remember the name of the puppy she’d chosen.
“We paid a deposit of $450. Afterwards, we started doing research and saw puppy scam warnings where this company was mentioned, but it was too late. Our money was gone."
After an investigation, the BBB found the company, which claims to be in Tulsa, Okla. was fake, and its website had only been set up in March of this year.
“You feel pretty stupid at the end,” Audrey says, “Because you think - where were the clues that I missed? I thought that their site looked very professional. They tell you that the puppies are vet checked, and they’re guaranteed for health, that they have their shots.”
Petscams.com has issued a warning about the site, but puppy scams are still on the rise in Canada and the U.S. The BBB says it has received complaints from Calgary, Halifax, Kitchener, Toronto, Victoria and Winnipeg in the last three months alone, and more than 6,000 complaints in 2019.
Even though Audrey and her husband won’t get the money they lost back, they are getting a puppy. Audrey found a breeder closer to home, and the couple has a puppy on the way.