Michigan attorney general warns of uptick in ‘puppy scams’ amid coronavirus pandemic | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

The Michigan Attorney General’s office is warning people to be wary of puppy scammers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since 2018, the attorney general’s office has received nearly 50 complaints of puppy-related scams–26 of which happened this year.

The state attributes the increase to more households looking for pets online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several people have complained about paying for a puppy online only to find that the dog doesn’t exist.

“Scammers are looking for any way to take advantage of consumers during this pandemic and puppies are unfortunately not exempt,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a July 27 statement. “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.”

The prospect of getting buyers their money back after being deceived is unlikely, because most of the scammers are operating outside the country, Nessel’s office said.

“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,” Nessel said. “Always do your homework before making any purchase online to avoid being taken advantage of.”

Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic as a way to avoid in-person visits while demanding additional fees, the attorney general’s office said.

“Taking advantage of Michiganders by exploiting our love of animals is as cruel to the people as it is to the dogs,” said Molly Tamulevich, Michigan State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.

These are the Attorney General’s tips to spot and avoid puppy 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


In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces. See an explanation of what that means here.

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For more data on COVID-19 in Michigan, visit https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/data/.

More coronavirus coverage on MLive:

Michigan reports 488 new cases of coronavirus for Monday, July 27

Michigan auto insurance companies give drivers $95 million in state-ordered coronavirus refunds

Fewer flights, layoffs and reduced ridership among COVID-19 effects on mid-Michigan airports

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