Coronavirus News: Puppy scammers on prowl amid COVID-19 pandemic

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Getting a puppy during the coronavirus pandemic is on more and more people's to-do list, but there's a new deception that could be costly.

"I just don't understand how someone could do this to other people," Krista Schafer said.

The New Jersey school teacher said she can't stop shedding tears for Oreo, a chestnut-colored Dachshund she fell in love with but never got to hold.

Schafer found Oreo online, so using Zelle, she paid who she thought was a breeder $500.

"I thought everything was legit and perfect," Schafer said.

However, suddenly the shipper wanted another $750 dollars for something called a "Thermal Electronic Crate" to transport Oreo.

"I'm like I'm not giving you $750," Shafer said to the so-called breeder and shipper.

Sebastian De Voogd's family also got stung. Years ago, their family dog was a Bullmastiff named Athena, so when they saw the puppy, by the same name they thought it was a sign to buy.

Everything looked legit, from the website, chock full of glowing testimonials and guarantees to the sales contract and transfer of ownership, so they Zelle'd away $850.

"I absolutely knew something was terribly wrong," Kerry De Voogd said after paying.

That's when Kerry De Voogd got a text saying she had an additional $1,500 for pet insurance.

"If I already paid shipping costs with the dog, why would I have to pay more money," she questioned.

Both lost hundred, and Athena and Oreo never arrived.

"You're messing with people's emotions," Schafer said about the scammers. "People just want something to love and joy. They take people's joy away."

Three big takeaways when it comes to puppies:
- Never buy a dog that you haven't seen in person
- Never wire or send money using apps like Zelle and Venmo to anyone you don't know personally
- If you're looking for a puppy or a dog, go to a shelter in your area.

Both Schafer and the De Voogd's said they're hurting, but may adopt in the future.

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