UTAH (ABC4) – When the pandemic hit, a lot of people purchased puppies. Scammers took notice.
Before Sandra Buendia found her newest pup, Leila, her heart was broken over losing two dogs within a matter of months. First, she lost her dog Cookie to Cancer.
“It’s hard. It is it’s just you know, they’re your babies,” said Buendia.
Hoping to fill that void, Buendia found a puppy named Lucy online.
“I shared that picture with all my good friends,” said Buendia.
But Buendia never met Lucy. Lucy was a scam. When Sandra realized what had happened, the damage was already done. She had sent a payment via Zelle.
Director of Communications for Better Business Bureau Mountain West, Britta Clark says asking for payment via Zelle is a red flag.
“We’re seeing scammers increasingly wanting to use untraceable methods like sell Cash App. Wire transfers, sometimes they even ask for gift cards, because it’s like cash and it’s impossible to get that money back,” said Clark.
Instead, Clark said you should use a credit card. Credit card companies can reverse charges, so scammers are less likely to accept them. The number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to ask to see the dog in person or via live video.
“Getting a FaceTime call, Zoom, Google Hangouts, an actual phone call that is in video format is the best way if you can’t see it physically in person to make sure that this is legitimate,” said Clark.
Buendia was disheartened but took another chance when she saw Leila’s photo. She tried not to get her hopes up until the day they brought Leila to her home.
“I was a little stunned. To be honest, who I kind of didn’t, I don’t even know how to explain it. They’re handing her over to me. I have her in our or my arms. But I still didn’t believe that it actually was for real.”
For more on how to prevent pet fraud click here.