CLEVELAND — Autumn Carney of West Salem, Ohio, learned a hard lesson when it comes to buying a puppy sight unseen while shopping online. Photos posted on the Internet of an English bulldog he and his family bought from a breeder in Fredericksburg, Virginia, quickly turned out to be nothing more than a mirage.
Carney said everything seemed fine when he initially wired the breeder $600 via Western Union, but he said it wasn’t long before he found himself running into hundreds of dollars in hidden charges. What did
“I was trying to get my husband an English bulldog for his birthday because he wanted one,” Carney said. “She sent me pictures, she sent me videos, told me it was going to be $500, that she could ship. The dog for an extra $100.”
But Carney told News 5 the deal quickly fell apart, and she contacted Fredericksburg police and the FBI, and will soon file a complaint with the Ohio attorney general.
“I got an email about four hours later that I had to pay for a special crate for the animal and that the crate was going to cost me another $900,” Carney said. “He made it really good, I mean so good that I believed him, and it was heartbreaking,” Carney said.
Carney and his family never received the English bulldog, and until now, they were never given a refund.
Sue McConnell, president of the Cleveland Better Business Bureau, told News 5 that consumers should never buy holiday pets online, sight unseen, and instead buy them from local breeders who vet them before buying them. Can show the dog first.
“Some of these customers lose hundreds and hundreds of dollars because they pay an initial fee and then they’re told they have to pay another fee,” McConnell said. “These breeds are worth thousands of dollars and if someone is going to sell you for $500, that’s a big red flag.”
Never send money through Western Union and MoneyGram to people or companies you don’t know and trust, McConnell said. Once the money is wired, it’s gone for good. The same goes for prepaid debit cards or gift cards. Always use a credit card if you need to dispute charges. If someone asks you to pay for anything with a gift card, you may be dealing with fraud..
McConnell told News 5 that pictures of dogs on pet websites can easily be faked.
“But it’s very easy for a fraudster to steal images from another website, or buy stock photos and claim they’re real dogs,” McConnell said.
Sharon Harvey, president of the Cleveland Animal Protective League, also urged consumers not to buy pets online.
“The desperation that these families are feeling and they’re out of money, but that creates a lack of confidence in actually adopting and getting involved with adopting an animal,” Harvey said. “You need to meet this pet in person, you should avoid buying puppies, kittens, dogs, cats online.
Northeast Ohio families should consider adopting a pet this holiday season, Harvey said, and if you’re giving a pet as a gift, make sure the recipient of the gift is eligible for adoption. Be aware first.
“You shouldn’t give someone a pet as a surprise gift if you have no idea if they’re ready for a pet, or if they really want a pet,” Harvey said. . Who really needs that second chance, it’s that time of year when you’ll be giving a gift to a deserving animal.
Information on adopting the Cleveland APL can be found here. On the APL web page.
Meanwhile, Autumn has a final warning to Carney.
“It’s embarrassing; your family’s heart is broken when you don’t get the animal you hoped for,” Carney said. If found, I want to meet somewhere, I want to see the dog, I want to touch the dog.”
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