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Increase in puppy scams prompts warning for Atlantic Canadians

Click to play video: 'BBB warns about puppy sale scams in Nova Scotia' BBB warns about puppy sale scams in Nova Scotia
Fraud artists are exploiting the emotions of want-to-be puppy owners through an increase in online scam tactics that the Better Business Bureau is warning people about. Alexa MacLean has the details. – Jun 28, 2022

Atlantic Canadians are being warned about an increase in scams that target people searching for a furry companion.

“Throughout the pandemic a lot of people were adopting pets, adopting dogs because a lot of people were working from home and they really wanted that companion,” said Kristin Matthews, communications director with the Atlantic region of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“So, that’s when scammers really started taking advantage,” Matthews said.

Puppy scam
This is a photo of a puppy used in a scam that was submitted to the BBB Atlantic region office. Submitted / Kristin Matthews

Matthews says in the last few weeks there have been upwards of 10 reported scams. She says most have impact people living in New Brunswick but the pet scam isn’t exclusive to any particular province.

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“Once that buyer sends the money to the shipping company, the seller and the shipping company are never to be heard from again unfortunately, because there was not a puppy that existed to begin with,” she said.

READ MORE: Albertans falling victim to ‘unprecedented surge’ of online scams, including pet scams

Matthews says the puppy scams usually come as a result of people searching to adopt animals from outside of their home province.

Matthews says scam artists will often send photos of a puppy to the buyer, along with an emotional story but it’s the method of payment being requested that often acts as a red flag.

“When they ask for some kind of Western Union wire transfer, or cryptocurrency, they do this because it’s highly untraceable,” she said.

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The Nova Scotia SPCA is a well-known shelter and adoption agency. The non-profit encourages people to include a specific website in their research prior to adopting an animal.

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“The website is yournextpet.ca. And, some of the sort of questions it’s going to encourage you to ask is of course, get the person’s name, and you want to really know where the pet came from,” said Heather Woodin, director of programs with the N.S. SPCA.

Sky is one of the dogs that is currently up for adoption at the Nova Scotia SPCA. Alexa MacLean / Global Halifax

READ MORE: Nova Scotia woman warns others after falling victim to online puppy scam

Woodin says people can also reverse-Google-search the image of a puppy to see if it’s being used in a suspicious and widespread manner.

Both Woodin and Matthews encourage people to take their time with pre-adoption research to help save them potential grief and money.

“If there’s sort of some ultimatums around money, those are some key red flags,” Woodin said.

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