I think this pandemic is giving scammers far too much time to come up with ways to rip people off.  The latest involves a website that claims to have cute puppies available.

According to the Better Business Bureau, an online company has emerged, supposedly based in Memphis, Tennessee, that is offering puppies for sale.  Cylixfrenchies.com claims to be a breeder of Teacup French Bulldog Puppies that are available to ship across the United States.

The website looks fairly legitimate, which a phone number to call, an e-mail address and even pictures of cute puppies.  There is no street address listed, however, only a city and state.  So far victims from four states have reported being victimized by this company, each losing between $500 and $700.

Here's an example of how one consumer was ripped off:

A Missouri woman said the company only communicated with her via text message and asked for payment through a peer-to-peer cash transfer app. She paid for her puppy using one such app. Then the company asked for more money for a thermal shipping crate due to COVID-19. “When you ask for your money back, they get silent,” she told BBB.

 

Basically, once someone picks out a puppy and pays in advance, the puppy never arrives as promised and the company goes silent when a refund is demanded.  It's likely the puppies in the pictures aren't really for sale at all, at least not by the scammers who created the website.

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The Better Business Bureau says that most people begin looking for a new pet online and, unbelievably, at least 80% of the sponsored advertising links that appear in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent.  It seems it's nearly impossible to search for a new pet online without running into attempted fraud.

Here are some tips to avoid a puppy scam:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another site.
  • Never pay a stranger with a money order or through Western Union or Moneygram.
  • Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent offer.

You can also click the button below for additional tips from the Humane Society of the United States, including a link to local dog shelters and rescue groups.