CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago dad just wanted to bring home a pet for his family, but instead, he got caught up in a puppy scam on social media.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, a lot of people actually use social media to buy and sell pets. But if you go that route, you have to make sure that you’re actually talking to someone who has the pet in their possession.
Atu Golden was scrolling through Instagram when something got his attention.
“It was actually a bully puppy that I saw online,” he said.
Golden decided to reach out to what he thought was a company selling puppies.
“He gave me, you know, prices; told me if I was interested, how to go about it,” Golden said.
The seller provided images and videos. Golden agreed to buy one pup for a total of $1,200.
He sent a $500 deposit by Cash App, and then another $200 for shipping.
“The only thing after that was to pay the remaining balance, which was $500,” Golden said.
Soon after making that final payment – you guessed it, problems arose.
“The dog was sold, but they do have other dogs, but the other dogs cost $1,000 more,” Golden said.
Golden refused and demanded his cash back. In the messages, the seller told him, ‘We never refund money,” leaving him and his children disappointed.
“We don’t have the dog and we don’t have our money anymore,” he said.
Weeks after the transaction, the seller kept calling and asking for more money. So CBS 2’s Terry decided to try reaching out himself.
The seller’s number turned out to be a Google number, which someone can set up or stop using with a day’s notice. That is another red flag that people buying items – or in this case pets – online should watch out for.
“Get yourself some more security that you’re dealing with a legitimate business,” said fraud and identity expert William Kresse.
Kresse said fraud with online companies is rampant, and a quick way to verify if an image is legitimate on a service like Instagram is to do a reverse image search.
“If they lifted that picture off of another site, it’ll show you, and if that happens I would back out of the transaction,” he said.
Golden said if he had done that, he would have figured out it was a scam.
The Instagram page operator that claimed to be selling the puppy Golden tried to buy called Terry back late Wednesday from a new Google number. He said he had no record of the two payments Golden made.
Meanwhile, experts say never to use Cash App online and opt for a credit card instead, because you can always attempt to stop payment with the latter.