The Better Business Bureau says puppy scams are on the rise in Calgary and people may be particularly vulnerable during the holiday season.
Sherry Christison fell victim to a puppy scam just a few days before Christmas 2018.
The Calgary woman and her husband were looking to buy two chow chow puppies online and thought they’d found the perfect pair.
What sounded like a good deal ended up taking a big bite out of Christison’s wallet.
“First of all they said they needed $700 for shipping and so we gave them the $700,” Christison said. “Then they came back to us and said they need $2,500 for a city permit. We wanted these dogs pretty bad, so we thought OK — we gave them the $2,500.”
After also transferring money to the sellers for things like a special dog shipping crate, Christison ended up parting with a pretty big sum of money.
She said it was particularly painful that it happened during the holiday season.
“Right at Christmastime — I thought, how low can people get? It was sad. I was very upset.”
The BBB said it’s a time of year when many people might be susceptible to puppy scams, as many are eager to add a new pet to the family during the holidays.
“To protect yourself, we recommend that you try to buy from breeders where you can go and visit in person,” the BBB’s Shawna-Kay Thomas said.
“And never wire money to these people via Western Union, MoneyGram, that kind of exchange. That’s a big red flag, because if the money goes that way, once it’s gone there’s no way of getting it back. Your money’s gone and there’s no pet in your hand for Christmas.”
Christison and her husband ended up buying another puppy, Valla, in March 2019.
She knows Valla will be a big hit when her grandchildren come to visit this Christmas, and she’s got some advice so others don’t get hit by scammers like she was last Christmas.
“If you cannot see and hold the puppy in your hand,” Christison said. “Don’t give any money out.”