Holiday puppy scams targeting Southwest Virginia

37,000 people a year fall victim to international scams, BBB says


ROANOKE, Va. – The holiday season is a popular time for people to add a four-legged friend to the family, but the Better Business Bureau is warning of international puppy scams using addresses in Southwest Virginia.

Several people have alerted the BBB of the following websites after being scammed -- MaltesePuppiesHeaven.com and HomeTrainedPugPups.com. The owner of the Maltese Puppies Heaven domain also owns the domain for JacoTeaCupMaltese.com -- both located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Home Trained Pug Pups is registered in Denver, Colorado.

According to the BBB, Maltese Puppies Heaven uses information and photos from legitimate dog breeder sites.

During the course of its investigation, the BBB contacted Home Trained Pug Pups on Nov. 1 to address the fraud allegations.

The victim told the BBB that money was collected via PayPal, but the animal was never delivered.

According to the website, puppies bought through Home Trained Pug Pups included a puppy cost of $650, a delivery fee of $175 and a pet nanny’s charge of $55.

One person reported to the BBB that they lost $880 to Home Trained Pug Pups, while another reported losing $1,650 to the sham company.

The address of Home Trained Pug Pups is listed as 13002 Callands Road, Callands, Virginia -- which is the location of a cemetery.

Maltese Puppies Heaven also lists an address in southwest Virginia -- 169 Woodside Drive, Galax, which is a personal home.

The BBB warns anyone who wants to buy a pet over the internet to contact the BBB before sending any money.

“Be very wary of purchasing the puppy over the internet it’s great if you want to shop and look at websites, but your best bet is always to talk to someone live and if at all possible go and visit the kennel," said Roanoke BBB CEO Julie Wheeler.

Wheeler said there are some red flags that could indicate the website is a scam.

“If it’s very long on emotional pictures and that type of thing and very short on facts or any invitation to speak to someone live and they need money up front, like big deposits, and they want that money either wired or sent via gift card or money pack or something like that."

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 37,000 people a year fall victim to international scams, paying an average $100 to $1,000 for dogs they’ll never see. Experts say 80% of sponsored advertisements about pets may be fake, operating out of West & South Africa.

If you have been the victim of a scam, share your experience and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.

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