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MPD: Man’s best friend is a scammer’s best bait

With stay-at-home orders in place across the globe, many people are buying new pets to help them feel more connected. Unfortunately, shoppers who are looking for a furry friend may be in for a big surprise. Cybercriminals are creating phony online pet shops that advertise unbelievable prices on purebred pups.

The Madison Police Department is helping warn area residents about such scams.

According to MPD Community Relations Officer Teresa Taylor-Duncan, these malicious pet shop sites include poorly-written testimonials from alleged buyers that often don’t make sense. “For example, one testimonial claimed that their ‘German Shepherd baby had hatched’. If you overlook these phony testimonials and click the ‘Buy Me!’ button under the photo of an adorable puppy, you’ll be taken to a contact page to begin your email conversation with the supposed seller,” she shared in a MPD Facebook post on Friday. “Via email, the scammers will ask you to pay for your pup using Bitcoin or a service provider, such as Paypal. Of course, any money you send goes straight to the bad guys and you’ll never receive your pup.”

A recently passed Madison City ordinance requires that all dogs and cats sold in retail stores come from rescue organizations and shelters. It also requires that dogs and cats for sale must be at least 8 weeks old.

All pet stores will be required to keep detailed records for the cats and dogs for sale, including the name and address of the organization they were obtained. This information must also be on display for each animal in the cage.

Here are some tips to avoid this ruff scam:
• Always be wary of websites with poorly-written information, including testimonials and reviews from customers.
• Remember, if a price sounds too good to be true—it is! Purchasing a purebred dog is typically very expensive, so scammers are trying to use low prices to trick you into acting impulsively.
• If you are in the market for a new pet, be sure to research the rescue shelter, pet adoption agency, or licensed breeder before making a purchase.

The Madison Police Department regularily posts information on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter about current scams and how to avoid them. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/madisonalpd.

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