Victims of puppy scams lose thousands

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A puppy scam is targeting countless victims, tugging at their heartstrings and taking thousands from their wallets with the promise of a pet that was never for sale.

People leave voicemails like this one:

“I've been trying to get my puppy here for three days now. I've missed a party on Saturday, I've missed church on Sunday and now I am missing work.”

Heather Blas, owner of Continental Pet Relocation, gets these inquiries on a weekly basis.

“So they think they have proof that there's a puppy,” she told FOX 46. “They have a photo, which they think proves that there is a puppy, but there's no puppy,” she continued, “and so we have to explain to them, to break the news, that they've been scammed.”

The voicemails continue to pile up, “I don't know what's going on. I'm going to cancel that transaction, send money again today, but in the meantime, I want my dog, on the plane and here today.”

Blas says she ships pets, mostly internationally, when people move. Scammers are copying her business logo in emails to extort money out of people who order puppies online.

“We've had anything from yelling, to tears, to just feeling, you know, humiliated,” Blass said.

She gets roughly 100 calls and emails from people each year, demanding their dog. It’s a disruption in her legitimate business; so much, she has a page dedicated to educating people on her website.

“One of the tell-tale signs of being scammed,” Blass said, “is when somebody asks you to pay via Western Union, or Money Gram, or Walmart-to-Walmart,” she continued, “because those are all methods of payment that can't be traced.”

It's best to buy an animal in person, but if you can't, do a reverse google search on the image. If other pictures of that same pup show up online, it might be a recycled picture and the dog likely doesn't exist.