GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan (BBB) said its seeing an increase in pet scams that are claiming to be based locally. Fake addresses are giving consumers false confidence in their purchases, the BBB said.
“Increasingly we are finding fake websites using addresses that don’t exist, or picking real addresses they don’t have a connection with,” says Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “These consumers think they are buying from a local company, only to find they have been scammed and have lost any money they paid.”
BBB said Glorious Pet Transportation Company claims to be located at an address in Wyoming, Mich., but the address given isn't a business at all -- it's an apartment complex located around the corner from the Wyoming Police Department.
The BBB said it has been unable to identify anybody in that complex connected to the website. The BBB has also identified six other identical websites operating under different names: Overland Pet Agency, Pets Shipping Logistics, Air Pet Global, Express Logistics Movers, Swift Pet Ways and Prime Pet Ways.
These websites are used to convince consumers who are buying a pet online that there is a real company set to transport their new pet, the BBB explained in a press release. However, fake transportation companies are usually just another step in the scam.
“Of all the scams we see, pet scams tend to have the largest personal impact,” says Catlett. “Customers get emotionally attached through video and pictures, only to have their hearts broken when it turns out to be a con. Most victims tell us they are more upset about not getting the dog or cat than they are about the money they lost.”
BBB is also warning about a website called Muh Paws, which claims to be based in Traverse City. The website offers pet supplies for sale at a discount. BBB has received 60 complaints over the past year from customers who say they didn’t receive the product they ordered. The company has failed to resolve the complaints and, according to customers, are ignoring emails.
“Its important consumers research websites before they make a purchase,” says Catlett. “Far too often we are seeing websites pop up, take in money from customers, and fail to deliver.”
The BBB has the following advice for current and prospective pet owners:
- If you can, buy local: If buying a pet, start with the local animal shelter or a local breeder. This allows you to verify, in-person, that the animal is real. If looking for pet products, find a store you are sure is local. This not only protects you, it helps the local economy.
- Research before you buy: Find out what kind of track record the company or website has by searching at bbb.org. There you can find complaints and reviews and see if others have had issues. Do additional online searches as well and see what people are saying about their own experiences with these companies.
- Be cautious with pet shipping: There are a limited number of breeders who ship animals. If you can’t verify in-person that the pet is real, do a live chat through apps like Facetime or Zoom. Make sure you can see both the seller and the animal together live.
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