ON YOUR SIDE: West Plains man out thousands of dollars after online puppy scam

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 9:52 PM CST
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - A West Plains man lost thousands of dollars after trying to buy a puppy from an online business that goes by Royal City Paw.

“$3,108 was a grand total on it,” said victim David Haworth. “The dog’s name was August and I fell in love with a little face and got sucked in after that.”

Haworth found Royal City Paw through a Google search and contacted them. He learned the company was based in North Carolina.

”They sent agreements, owner transfers, and shipping forms,” said Haworth. “Everything looked really good and so I sent them $1,000 for the puppy through Zelle.”

The price went up to $1,500 for shipping alone and the scammers continued to ask for more money. Haworth only communicated with the so-called business through text messages and email.

“These are highly emotional purchases when you’re buying a pet so sometimes people don’t take the time to do all the research,” said Pamela Hernandez with the Better Business Bureau.

Hernandez says pet-related scams make up 25% of all online shopper fraud and that you need to research the business, first.

”If something seems off you can take the image of the pet and do a reverse image search on Google to see if that same animal is for sale in other places.” said Hernandez.

Haworth says he contacted the Howell County Sheriff’s Office to report the scam and investigators say they believe these people are out of the country.

KY3 called the number Haworth communicated with and a man answered selling us the same story.

Haworth says he hopes sharing his story stops others from falling into the same trap.

”If they’re asking for Zelle, Venmo or anything like that stay clear,” said Haworth. “The best advice would be to drive to the breeder and pick out your puppy in person.”

Haworth reported the scam to his bank hoping to get his money back but he got a letter from Bank of America telling him the payment he made through Zelle could not be reversed.

The BBB says peer-to-peer contact apps are non-refundable like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App and that you should always use a credit card because that is refundable.

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