Man pays nearly $2,000 for dog that never showed up

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are on the hunt for the perfect gift. Maybe you’re thinking that now is finally the time to get the puppy you’ve always wanted. But the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida warns that puppy scams are serious during the holiday season. This is something Bobby Richardson said he knows very well. Last spring, Richardson caved. He finally said yes to getting a family dog. “So we started looking. Some breeders in our area seemed to be spending a little more than we wanted,” he said. Richardson and his family live in Mississippi. He started searching online and said he found the perfect Maltipoo from a breeder in Orlando who sent him photos and videos. “Oh, we’re very excited,” he said. “I’m probably more excited than anyone,” said Richardson, who emailed the breeder and she told him the pup would cost $700 and said it was a 50 percent discount. Richardson said he signed a sales agreement and wired the money through a payment app. “It took me a few days to realize it was a scam,” he said. The next day, Richardson said, the breeder told him she was taking the dog to the airport. But then, he got another email saying he needed to pay more: $1,000 this time. “A crate, a special crate for better shipping,” he said. “The weather was bad that day, and the crate the breeder was using to transport the dog wasn’t suitable. So I ended up having to pay for that too.” Then Richardson got a third request for money. This time it was an email asking for a $2,000 payment to cover vaccines and get a permit before bringing the dog to Mississippi. “So at that point, I contacted our veterinarian,” Richardson said. “Our veterinarian said, ‘You might want to report this. It might be a scam.'” Richardson said he declined to make the final payment. “This industry, the pet industry, is full of scams,” Holly Salmons said. Salmons is President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida. We checked with Richardson after she submitted a report on the BBB’s tool Scam Tracker. “Usually, the scammers will go back to the intended home and ask for more money. They’ll say the puppy is sick. They’ll say we need to upgrade their transportation,” Salmons said. “Once you fall in love with this video or this photo, you’re like, ‘Well, how could I not?’ because you really want it to be part of your family, but there’s no puppy in the end. Richardson said he and his wife went to the airport anyway, holding out hope. “We were probably at the airport for an hour or so,” he said. “Of course, there were no dogs. Then all communications stopped.” Richardson said he and his family were devastated. It’s because of this situation that Salmons encourages people to see their pets first, or have someone they trust visit before paying. “Really do your homework so you don’t have a broken heart on Christmas morning,” Salmons said. That’s why Richardson said he will share his warning with others this holiday season. “What I want people to know is ‘do more research,'” he said. “If it looks too good to be true, chances are it’s too good to be true.” Now, Richardson says his family is happy again. A month after losing the dog they were expecting, Cody, they found a real dog. “We went with a local breeder in central Mississippi. We named him ‘Colbie,'” he said. “And fell in love with him.” Richardson said he was able to get all his money back with the help of a payment app and his bank.

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are on the hunt for the perfect gift. Maybe you’re thinking that now is finally the time to get the puppy you’ve always wanted.

But the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida warns that puppy scams are serious during the holiday season.

This is something Bobby Richardson said he knows very well.

Last spring, Richardson caved. He finally said yes to getting a family dog.

“So we started looking. Some breeders in our area seemed to be spending a little more than we wanted,” he said.

Richardson and his family live in Mississippi. He started searching online and said he found the perfect Maltipoo from a breeder in Orlando who sent him photos and videos.

“Oh, we’re very excited,” he said. “I’m probably more excited than anyone.”

Richardson said he emailed the breeder and she told him the puppy was priced at $700 and said it was a 50 percent discount. Richardson said he signed a sales agreement and wired the money through a payment app.

“It took me a few days to realize it was a scam,” he said.

The next day, Richardson said, the breeder told him she was taking the dog to the airport. But then, he got another email saying he needed to pay more: $1,000 this time.

“A crate, a special crate for better shipping,” he said. “The weather was bad that day and the crate the breeder was using to transport the dog wasn’t suitable. So I ended up having to pay for that too.”

Then Richardson got a third request for money. This time it was an email asking for a $2,000 payment to cover vaccines and get a permit before bringing the dog to Mississippi.

“So at that point, I contacted our veterinarian,” Richardson said. “Our veterinarian said, ‘You might want to report this. It might be a hoax.'”

Richardson said he refused to pay the final amount.

“This industry, the pet industry, is full of scams,” Holly Salmons said.

Salmons is President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida. We checked with Richardson after she submitted a report on the BBB’s tool Scam Tracker.

“Usually, the scammers will go back to the intended home and ask for more money. They’ll say the puppy is sick. They’ll say we need to upgrade their transportation,” Salmons said. “Once you fall in love with this video or this photo, you’re like, ‘Well, how could I not?’ because you really want it to be part of your family, but you end up with no puppy .”

Richardson said he and his wife went to the airport anyway, holding out hope.

“We were probably at the airport for an hour or so,” he said. “Of course, no dogs. Then all communications stopped.”

Richardson said he and his family were devastated. It’s because of this situation that Salmons encourages people to see their pets first, or have someone they trust visit before paying.

“Really do your homework so you don’t have a broken heart on Christmas morning,” Salmons said.

That’s why Richardson said he will share his warning with others this holiday season.

“What I want people to know is ‘do more research,'” he said. “If it looks too good to be true, chances are it’s too good to be true.”

Now, Richardson says his family is happy again. A month after losing the dog they were expecting, Cody, they found a real dog.

“We went with a local breeder in central Mississippi. We named him ‘Colbie,'” he said. “And fell in love with him.”

Richardson said he was able to get all his money back with the help of a payment app and his bank.

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