NEW YORK -- Puppies like Yorkies and French bulldogs are some of the most popular breeds to adopt. But if you go online searching to buy one, the Better Business Bureau says beware as they're also the most popular lures for scammers.
"I don't think that it's possible to do a search online for a pet or a puppy particularly without running across one of these fraudulent sites," said C. Steven Baker, of the BBB.
Danny Shelton said that's what happened to him. When his beloved Weimaraner died, he paid $700 to buy another online.
"I got an email from a shipping company, and it said you're required to pay $1,500 additional," he said. "When I looked, the shipping company was the same guy that I bought the puppy from. I knew then I was scammed."
The BBB says it believes at least 80 percent of sponsored links in search results for pets may lead to fraudulent sites. The scheme is so widespread, the bureau is warning "anyone searching for a pet online is likely to encounter this fraud."
According to the consumer watchdog group's report, the thieves often insist on e-mail and text correspondence and refuse requests to meet in person or see the animal before paying.
"I don't think you really can avoid a scam online," Baker said. "The only way to be sure is to go to see the puppy in person."
The Federal Trade Commission says the vast majority of victims are millennials, because that generation grew up with the internet and is most likely to look for a pet online rather than in person.