AG Nessel: Michigan sees surge in complaints of puppy scams during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jul 28, 2020

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, along with the Humane Society of the United States, is urging consumers to be wary of puppy scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The attorney general's office stated it has seen a surge in complaints of internet scammers exploiting those who are looking to adopt a furry friend for companionship.

Several Michiganders have recently been tricked into paying for pets that do not exist, the AG's office said.

“Scammers are looking for any way to take advantage of consumers during this pandemic and puppies are unfortunately not exempt,” Nessel said in a press release. “While many people may be eager to bring home a puppy during this time, I urge Michiganders to be vigilant in their search to avoid being scammed. My office continues to prioritize protecting residents from predatory and deceptive business practices, and these puppy scams will ultimately result in heartbreak and financial loss. Always do your homework before making any purchase online to avoid being taken advantage of.”

Scammers are also taking advantage of the pandemic as they use it as a reason to avoid in-person visits and demand additional fees.

“Taking advantage of Michiganders by exploiting our love of animals is as cruel to the people as it is to the dogs. We are very grateful to General Nessel’s office for taking this issue seriously,” said Molly Tamulevich, Michigan State Director for the Humane Society of the United States, in a press release.

Since 2018, the Michigan Department of Attorney General has received nearly 50 complaints of alleged puppy scams - 26 of these complaints came in this year alone.

The Michigan Department of Attorney General previously provided tips to help consumers spot and avoid puppy scams. To avoid falling victim to scams:

  • Research the breed
  • Research the breeder
  • Research the advertised puppy
  • Do not purchase a puppy sight-unseen
  • Use a credit card to make the purchase
  • Retain all documents and communications from the breeder
  • Consider contacting your local shelter