Have you seen some super cute and free beagles on a classifieds site lately?
Well, it’s just too cute to be true, according to the Better Business Bureau.
In a news release Monday, the bureau received multiple reports of an ad on eClassifieds4u.com for free beagles that tricked victims out of $500 each.
The reports said a scammer by the name of Jones Walker claimed to have a Prince George address and beagle puppies for adoption.
Walker would communicate by text only using the phone number 787-986-0856 and asked the victims to buy Google Play cards to cover the cost for paper transfers and shipping.
Then, Walker asks for an extra $1,500 to $2,000 as a deposit to ship the puppy, claiming it will be refunded to the victim.
When delays pop up, Walker tells victims that the puppy is recovering from shots or that his own daughter is critically ill in a Calgary hospital.
The bureau said that in total, its received 626 reports of online puppy scams across North America this year. Of those, 18 were in Canada and some victims lost as much as $5,200. In 2018, the bureau received 1,313 reports across North America and 33 from Canada.
The bureau warned although most people start their search for a new dog on the internet, it’s important to be careful and always safer to stick with a legitimate shelter rather than a private sale. They estimate that at least 80 per cent of sponsored pet ads online may be fraudulent.
For those trying to get a pet online, the bureau has a few tips:
- Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person
- Try to Google search the image used in the ad to make sure it’s an original. If it’s not, it’s likely a scam
- Never pay with a money order, gift card, Interac e-transer or through Western Union or Money Gram
- Use a credit card so you can dispute the charges
- Research prices because a deeply discounted puppy is likely not real
Anyone who is the victim of a scam is asked to file a report with BBB’s Scam Tracker or call the Canadian Antifraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.