How much is that doggy on the web­site?

Albuquerque Journal - - FETCH - BY KARIN BRULLIARD THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Bae is a 19-week-old Siberian husky with tawny brown mark­ings and cerulean eyes. She’s avail­able for $1,500 on the web­site of Theresa Ros­ales, a breeder who is li­censed by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and of­fers AKC reg­is­tra­tions for all pup­pies she sells out of her Hamer, S.C., home. Pho­tos show the pup stand­ing near a wooden fence and bright red roses.

One of those pho­tos can also be found on web­sites called can­dy­huskies.us and di­a­mond­huskies.us. On those sites, how­ever, Bae is called Tilla and she’s listed at the much lower price of $600. Nei­ther site lists the name or lo­ca­tion of a breeder and they en­cour­age po­ten­tial cus­tomers to email.

Bae’s al­ter­nate iden­tity is no sur­prise to Ros­ales, who said her pup­pies’ pho­tos are reg­u­larly copied and used on other sites that claim to sell dogs. And it’s no sur­prise to of­fi­cials at the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bu­reau, which has re­leased a re­port warn­ing that on­line pet sales scams are “vic­tim­iz­ing Amer­i­cans at an alarm­ing rate.”

This kind of scam hap­pens like much on­line fraud, the re­port said: A prod­uct is ad­ver­tised on a pro­fes­sional-look­ing site. Cus­tomers are asked to wire the pur­chase price and then they’re asked for ad­di­tional fees. In the end, the prod­uct is never de­liv­ered.

The bu­reau says its ScamTracker web­site has re­ceived more than 1,000 com­plaints about such faux puppy en­ter­prises and its in­ves­ti­ga­tion cited a 2015 Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion in­ter­nal re­port that found a ma­jor­ity of 37,000 pet-re­lated com­plaints in­volved fraud­u­lent sales.

“I knew this was a prob­lem, but it’s worse than I thought,” said Steve Baker, a Bet­ter Busi­ness Bu­reau in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tions spe­cial­ist who wrote the re­port. “This has just sat­u­rated the in­ter­net.”

Baker said sev­eral vic­tims he spoke to lost thou­sands of dol­lars and ended up bro­ken­hearted.

One Cal­i­for­nia mother, he said, was bilked out of nearly $1,000 for a teacup York­shire ter­rier puppy for her 10-year-old daugh­ter who “was go­ing to bed cry­ing ev­ery night” as the sup­posed sell­ers de­layed the dog’s ar­rival. At one point, the sell­ers told the wo­man the puppy was stuck at an air­port in Ok­la­homa, then threat­ened to re­port her to the FBI for “an­i­mal aban­don­ment” if she did not pay an ad­di­tional $980 for pet health in­sur­ance, Baker said.

Fake pet sales have be­come so per­va­sive that the at­tor­neys gen­eral of three states — Ohio, Ari­zona and Vir­ginia — have is­sued warn­ings to res­i­dents in the past year.

Track­ing Bae’s on­line pres­ence pro­vides one jour­ney into the vor­tex of this faux on­line mar­ket­place. Right click on her photo on Ros­ales’ web­site, loy­al­si­beri­an­husky.com, and a Google im­age search turns up her pho­tos on Candy Huskies and Di­a­mond Huskies. Those sites’ “About Us” sec­tions have sev­eral para­graphs of generic in­for­ma­tion con­tain­ing th­ese lines:

“We are par­ents of four chil­dren and five grand­chil­dren. Our old­est daugh­ter is mar­ried and has three boys and lives down the road from us. Our son is in the Air Force and just re­cently be­came en­gaged and our youngest daugh­ter lives nearby and has a three month old baby boy.”

A Google search for those sen­tences lo­cates them on all sorts of sites, in­clud­ing one for Evans Siberian Huskies Pet Home. The sin­gle, mis­spelled tes­ti­mo­nial on that site is next to a photo of a young wo­man hold­ing a husky puppy — an im­age that can be found on var­i­ous web­sites.

An­i­mal pro­tec­tion ad­vo­cates say all this un­der­scores the im­por­tance of see­ing a po­ten­tial pet in per­son, both to en­sure it ex­ists and to get a look at the breed­ing set­ting. Or, as John Good­win of the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of the United States put it: “Show me the mommy.”

“If they’re not go­ing to go to a res­cue or shel­ter, at least in­vest enough time to meet the breeder in per­son and meet the mother dog to en­sure that you’re not deal­ing with a puppy mill.”

COURTESY OF LOY­AL­SI­BERI­AN­HUSKY.COM

Theresa Ros­ales’ web­site of­fers Siberian husky pup­pies for sale, with nu­mer­ous pho­tos of those that are avail­able and those that have been sold. Some of those pho­tos show up on fraud­u­lent sites, where cus­tomers pay for pets that don’t ex­ist.

This husky puppy is avail­able from Theresa Ros­ales for $1,500. Fraud­u­lent sites will use the photo, or oth­ers like this one, to of­fer nonex­is­tent pups at huge dis­counts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.