Online pet scam victim gets happy ending thanks to local breeder


A victim of an online pet scam has gotten a happy ending thanks to a local breeder.

FOX 7 Austin told you the story of Ricardo Gonzalez in a recent 7 On Your Side report from Carissa Lehmkuhl about the dangers of online pet scams. 

Gonzalez shared his story about how he was looking for a new dog and thought he had found a new member of his family, but he ended up paying money to a person and not getting one. 

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While Gonzalez ended up being a victim of a scam, the story took a turn for the better.

Gonzalez reached out to FOX 7 and said that Julie with local breeder Color Me Crazy Kennel saw his story and gifted his family a miniature Aussie named Doddy. 

Doddy, is now named Cali, and Gonzalez says his family is "absolutely happy" and has fallen in love with their new family member

How do pet scams work?

"These scams typically follow the same pattern," said Jason Meza, senior regional director for San Antonio, Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas.

According to Meza, often it will start with an individual researching a certain breed online. That’s when they may come across a sponsored, official-looking ad. Eventually, the scammer has the individual on the hook for hundreds of dollars.

"The scam is actually the shipping involved, the delivery method to get it to you," said Meza. "They'll tell you the pet is stuck in an airport, or they'll tell you the pet needs a new crate or food insurance to continue the journey."

Online purchase scams continue to be the most prevalent of all scam types reported to the BBB scam tracker, making up roughly 30% percent of all reported scams in 2022. 

Within online purchase scams, the top products used as bait are pets and pet supplies.

In 2022, in Austin alone, there were 16 reported victims that lost a total of $6,538 via these scams.

"We trusted our sellers and breeders online a lot during COVID," said Meza. "Now that we're kind of emerging from that, we need to get back to personal touches and really seeing if we can see or meet the dog and breeder in person."

If that’s not possible, ask to see a video or FaceTime that’s harder to replicate than a photo. Other red flags to watch out for include: a steep discount on an expensive breed or the seller refusing to accept a credit card, instead asking for payment via Zelle or a gift card.