Roanoke, VA (BBB) – BBB Serving Western VA is warning consumers about a fraudulent website named "Ice Dream Bulldogs", which claims to sell Bulldog puppies, but instead steals customer's money and does not have puppies for sale.
BBB initiated an investigation of www.icedreambulldog.org after being alerted by a customer who paid for a puppy they never received. BBB attempted to contact the "company" to address these allegations, but has not received a response.
BBB found multiple red flags during the investigation:
- Poorly constructed website with considerable grammatical errors.
- Suspiciously low prices. The company claims to be selling Bulldog puppies for $640. Bulldogs are some of the most expensive breeds due to small litters and birthing complications and can go for as much as $3,000 a puppy.
- Payment methods. The company requires payment through Walmart-to-Walmart wire transfer, Western Union, and Moneygram.
- The pictures of the puppies for sale were pulled from other websites.
- The company lists a Danville, Virginia address, but the address is a private residence unconnected to the website and "company."
According to one complainant in Indiana, the website required a 50% deposit and promised to send shipping information soon after, but the shipping information and puppy were never sent. Subsequent phone calls to address the issue were answered by an individual with the "company" who repeatedly claimed they could not hear anyone on the line, followed with hanging up the phone. Though only one victim has come forward thus far, BBB believes multiple people have been scammed by this fraudulent website.
The website mirrors a similar scam first reported by BBB in May of 2015 and August of 2016. Those websites, comfortbulldogs.com, and tinyyorkiepupshome.com, used very similar tactics and also listed Southwest Virginia addresses.
Protect yourself from potential scams online by following these tips:
- Avoid buying online. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not purchase a puppy from a website. When you have a puppy shipped from another area, you don't know how that puppy has been treated, how healthy or young it is, or whether or not the puppy exists.
- Ask to see the parents. Before bringing a puppy home, ask to see his or her parents and the living area where he or she was born and raised. Honest breeders will be happy to show you around. If the seller refuses or makes excuses, walk away.
- Ask for references. Ask the breeder for contact information of people who have bought puppies in the past. Try to talk to people who have had their dog awhile in order to check for issues that may not be immediately apparent, like genetic problems.
- Read contracts thoroughly. If the seller offers a health guarantee, make sure it is in writing and read it carefully for limits and proof requirements. Guarantees should cover more than a few weeks or days, since it can take weeks for symptoms to appear in illnesses like parvo and distemper. Genetic issues might not become apparent for years.
- Ask for medical records. Get a written account of all medical care your puppy has received, including vaccinations and antibiotics. Take this record to your vet during the first examination. See a veterinarian immediately. Within a few days of bringing your puppy home, schedule a complete physical with your vet to make sure it is in good health.
- Check pedigree. If purchasing a pedigreed pet, be sure the breeder provides documentation of the parents' registration with the appropriate kennel club. This ensures that the pet is in fact a legitimate pure-bred animal. It is then your responsibility to register your pet with the appropriate kennel club.
- Too good to be true. Watch out for suspiciously low prices. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!
- Check website. Confirm that the website you are purchasing from is a company's official website. A quick search of the company should be able to tell you if the website you are using is the official webpage, or at least affiliated with the company.
- Payment concerns. Be cautious of businesses that require payment through wire transfer and MoneyGram only. Wire transactions are almost impossible to reverse/trace and are widely used by scammers.
- Start With Trust. Check BBB.org first for a rating on the company and a list of any complaints and customer reviews.