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I-TEAM: Fake puppy ads spreading nationwide

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - If you're in the market for a new puppy---you might want to think twice before responding to online ads. The Better Business Bureau says puppy scams are spreading in West Michigan and across the nation.

The Federal Trade Commission has 37,000 complaints about pet scams.

Consumer advocates say 80-percent of sponsored online advertisements about pets may be fake.

Here's what's happening---Scammers are setting up fake websites and CraigsList ads for certain breeds. The consumer then sees a few pictures and they’re told to wire money to the seller. The scammer then makes off with your money and you don't get the puppy.

The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan recommends three things. The first is to not wire money to people you don’t personally know. The second recommendation is to make sure you see the puppy before handing over any money. The third recommendation is to try finding a puppy at your local humane society.

Local shelters say learning about the pet's medical history is also important and that's something you typically can't get online.

“These puppies are typically pure bred and they claim to be high quality and with that comes a high price tag,” says John Masterson with the Better Business Bureau, based in Grand Rapids. “So it could be thousands of dollars for any type of puppy."

“For us, if you adopt from us, we send you home with a medical history which provides heartworm tests, vaccination records, rabies certificates. You can bring that to your veterinarian. If you go from CraigsList, who knows what you're going to get?" says Katie Timber with the S.P.C.A. of SW Michigan.

The BBB also found the most fake ads were for French bulldogs. So the lesson here is make sure you see the puppy before handing over any cash.

For more on the BBB study, click here.

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