Victims from four states have reported being victimized by an online company, purportedly based in Memphis, offering puppies for sale. The victims, from Alaska, Missouri, Nevada and Memphis, all filed scam reports with BBB in the last few days. They each lost between $500 and $750.
The company’s website, cylixfrenchies.com, claims to be “a small family-owned kennel concentrating on breeding superior Teacup French Bulldog Puppies as family pets.” It also claims to be located in “beautiful Memphis, Tennessee,” but gives no physical address on the site. The website was recently created on June 10, 2020, and was privately registered, meaning no contact information is publicly available.
Fraud in the sale of online pets has continued to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, with scammers victimizing American consumers at an alarming rate. BBBs across North America have received more than 2100 reports of puppy scams so far in 2020. Many of these begin with a fake website and stolen photos, often lifted from a legitimate site.
Homebound consumers who’ve decided to bring a pet into their family generally start their search for a new pet online. However, even the most careful online search is likely to put a consumer in contact with a potential thief. Incredibly, experts believe at least 80% of the sponsored advertising links that appear in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent. In fact, it can be difficult to navigate an online search for a pet without coming across a bogus website.
Greedy “sellers” are rarely satisfied with stealing a few hundred dollars from their victims. Most will demand additional payments for items such as special shipping crates or vet visits until the buyer finally becomes suspicious or runs out of funds.
One Memphis woman paid $650 for one of the puppies on Cylix Frenchies’ website. She told the company she would pick up the puppy the same day, but they sent her a contract showing a balance for shipping, insurance and medication. “I disputed the charge with my credit card company,” she told BBB.
A Missouri woman said the company only communicated with her via text message and asked for payment through a peer-to-peer cash transfer app. She paid for her puppy using one such app. Then the company asked for more money for a thermal shipping crate due to COVID-19. “When you ask for your money back, they get silent,” she told BBB.
The other two victims who filed scam reports with BBB of the Mid-South also reported that the company stopped communicating once they received payment. None of the victims ever received their puppies.
Simply put, many of the pets marketed online do not exist – at least not as advertised. In virtually all cases, the scammers never own the animals described on the sites.
Look in the BBB directory for reputable Dog Breeders Near You.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report your experience to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others to stay informed and protected!