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The family has lost nearly $20,000

While the Regans realized something was amiss and gave up on Blitz — they resumed their Facebook search until they found another sweet-looking basset hound they hoped to name Bentley.

This breeder also asked the couple to send a gift card as a deposit to cover the costs of shipping crates and drugs to sedate Bentley during delivery, but kept coming up with excuses, like the delivery driver's van supposedly breaking down or getting stopped by police.

Then the breeder claimed the dog had died and that the Regans would have to pay a fee to get a new dog delivered.

CBS News Texas conducted a reverse Google image search of the Facebook photo of Blitz — and traced it back to a Pennsylvania pup named Snoopy, whose owner revealed this wasn’t the first time Snoopy’s picture had been used for fraud.

Another reverse Google image search revealed Bentley’s Facebook picture was actually just a stock photo. The photo sent to the Regans when the delivery driver was supposedly pulled over by the police originated from the State of New Jersey's YouTube page.

The couple is now out almost $20,000 and have no pet to show for it.

"I really just wanted the dog," Kelli said. "But it wasn't worth what we put ourselves through."

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Americans have lost $1M to online puppy scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust, said Americans lost more than $1 million to puppy scams in 2023, as reported by online veterinary help platform One Vet.

John Planos, the vice president of communications and public relations at the BBB, told KSNB Local 4 in December that people can avoid getting scammed by meeting the pet and the breeder in person before making any payments.

He added, ”99% of the scams that are reported to us could have been avoided if that person saw that pet in question, or saw that that pet in question did not exist.”

He also recommended doing some research on how much a particular breed will cost, so you can recognize if you’re being overcharged by a fraudster. For example, a pitbull typically costs less than a golden retriever. “Getting a fair sense for the breed that you’re looking for is a good way to suss out what is a fraudulent offer from what is a legitimate one.”

The BBB recommended only purchasing from a reputable dealer and checking for complaints and customer reviews — or reaching out to your local animal shelter instead. You can also conduct a reverse image search of the picture of the pet you’ve found online to see if it’s appeared elsewhere.

And it’s important to avoid making payments with a gift card, cash app or wire transfer, since these methods will make it harder to get your money back if you are a victim of fraud.

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Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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