Online dog buying scam costs Geneva woman hundreds of dollars

GENEVA, Ill. (WLS) -- Many people have turned to their furry friends to them get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

For one woman in Geneva, she was hoping to add to her family, but she ended up losing hundreds in the process.

Last month, Kathi Crowell had her eyes on a little puppy she said she found the pup on the Facebook page Hills Boston Terriers and fell in love.

"She was sweet and chubby and just adorable," Crowell said. "So I private messaged them and asked them how much the puppy was and where they were located."

Per their instructions, Crowell said she sent the breeder $200 via Zelle and they sent her an address to pick up the puppy that week.

" So I went online and I put in her address to see if the address was in fact the same as this woman's name and it was not," Crowell said.

She said when she confronted to so-called breeder, the communication started to dwindle. Crowell said she asked for a refund and got no response.

"I feel stupid that I got taken and it's upsetting that people are so nasty," she said.

Crowell's is not alone. According to the Better Business Bureau, reports of puppy scams have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

-Pet scams now make up 24% of online scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker (up from 17% in 2019).
-Of those targeted for a pet scam, 70% end up losing money.
-The typical dollar amount lost to a pet scam is $700, one of the highest for all categories of scams.

" I wanted you to make people aware that this is out there and this is happening.," Crowell said. "I don't want anybody else to have to go through the torment and the heartbreak of counting on getting a puppy...and then by taken."

For anyone who is looking to get a dog, a cat or any fur baby, follow these important tips:

-Never pay money for a pet that you haven't actually seen in person
-Don't be tricked by pictures you see online. Often times, they are photos that were taken from another page or website
--And avoid wiring money or using cash applications on your phone. If you have been scammed, it's really hard to get your money back.

ABC7 I-Team Investigator Samantha Chatman reached out to the Facebook page to try to get answers, but has not gotten a response. A reverse image search of the puppy pictures revealed that several sites were using the same photos.
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