Watch out for puppy scams during the COVID-19 pandemic | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

A Peterborough resident is warning people about a potential puppy scam circulating on Kijiji, which preys on people looking for a pet during the social isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joan Norris, a retired nurse, is warning people to be careful of scammers after a potential encounter with one while looking for a puppy through the online buy and sell site.

Norris said she was looking for a dog to fit her lifestyle. As a retiree living in a quiet condo, she wanted something small.

“A couple weeks ago, I saw someone had a puppy,” she said, “a small dog, to give away, so I responded to it.”

It was hard to find either a small dog or puppy, she said.

“There are no dogs to be had because of COVID,” Norris said. “Families are getting them out of shelters or going into places that are breeding them and they are putting their name down for the next available.”

She contacted the seller of the puppy, who was in Thunder Bay, by email and then realized things were not adding up.

“I told him our situation and I told him we always had dogs and we were looking for one,” Norris said. “He sent me a picture, it was a beautiful dog, he said all I would have to pay is $450 to get the dog to Peterborough.”

She became concerned about the potential scam after corresponding with the seller over a couple of days.

She said he suddenly told her he wanted her to have the dog, which came as a shock after only talking a handful of times.

“He said I am registering it now with this shipping company and I said whoa, I need to talk to you, like give me your phone number, I want to know more details,” Norris said.

She said she called the seller to see what was happening and the man became irate when she asked for details about the dog.

“The next day, I get an email from this shipping company saying the dog is there, and they want $450 to send it to Peterborough,” Norris said.

“He was getting really upset with me because I want to know more and then I tell him this isn’t feeling good and I think he is a scammer. All of a sudden, he tells me I am going to be charged with puppy abandonment.”

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She said she had never agreed to buy the dog and only wanted to know more about it.

She has reported it to police in Thunder Bay and Peterborough.

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