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How to make sure you’re not the victim of a pet scam

ROANOKE, Va. – Thinking about buying a pet? Be careful, you could get scammed.

Dog breeder Atasha Loboschefski is no stranger to puppy scams.

“The scams are awful. I was actually scammed myself several years ago when I tried to buy a puppy back in the Western Union-style days,” said Loboschefski. “I was just absolutely heartbroken for several months.”

She lost $450 in that scam.

In November, 10 News told you about two websites, claiming to be local companies that the Roanoke Better Business Bureau determined were scams.

When we reached out to www.maltesepuppiesheaven.com and www.hometrainedpugpups.com for this story, they did not respond.

Roanoke Better Business Bureau CEO Julie Wheeler said researching the company you’re going to buy from and the pictures on the company’s website is always a good idea and meet the dogs and breeder in person if you can.

“You can search and see if that image is on other sites. If it’s the same image, it’s not legitimate,” said Wheeler.

Loboschefski’s heartbreaking experience caused her to take steps to make communication between her and her clients clearer.

“Videos, pictures, live taping of things, live births, things like that. We have an extensive application process. We can’t necessarily bring the puppy. What we can do is bring, possibly, the father out to meet and greet the people, especially if they’re local. Otherwise, they can request a live video chat or something like that,” said Loboschefski.

Mary Garland got her dog from Loboschefski.

Garland says scams were on her mind when she was looking for a dog, but she did her research.

“I look for medical history of worming, vet checks,” explained Garland. “Social media is a big deal, so that’s typically what I go to.”

Even though she didn’t get scammed, she’s frustrated and saddened other people lose money or get a dog they don’t want or cannot care for.

“That dog ends up in a shelter or anything like that and that’s why they’re over-populated now, because people don’t do their research,” said Garland.

“People just really have to do their research and develop a relationship. On our end, we do have to reach out and make that extra step. But at the same time, if someone isn’t willing to do that for you, they’re not the right person anyway.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam or you think you may have found a scam, you can find out how to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.