COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Sara Carringer was in the market for a new pet. Specifically, a Munchkin kitten. So, she started her search online.
“I looked at several sites,” said Carringer. “And I started looking up to see if any of these sites were legit when I started, and I did get hits that some that I looked at first were not real.”
But after a few more searches, Carringer found the website for a company in Tennessee — no negative reviews, and the kitten she wanted. After a quick conversation, Carringer decided to make the purchase.
“They only accepted Zelle,” she said. “They would not accept PayPal or even Venmo. I didn’t really think twice about it, because there’s so many different cash apps out there. I went ahead and did it.”
But Carringer said the company told her the transaction wasn’t showing up on their end.
“When they said that, I had a pit in my stomach because I checked my bank,” she said. “It had gone through.”
Carringer asked for photos of the kitten and even offered to pick it up herself. But every time she reached out, the other end of the phone was silent. That’s when she knew she was the victim of a scam.
“$750,” Carringer said.
But according to the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, Carringer isn’t the only one.
“In April alone, we had more reports of fake pet websites than we had in the first three months of last year,” said Jessica Kapcar with the BBB.
Kapcar applauds Carringer for doing her research but said that can go a step further.
“Making sure that you’re taking a look at some of these pictures and just doing an independent web search,” said Kapcar. “And never sending money for a pet that you haven’t actually seen in person.”
Carringer said she knows her money is gone, and now, has a message for other potential pet parents.
“Rescue. Adopt. That way, that’s going to be your best bet,” she said.
Carringer said she filed reports with the BBB, FTC, and even the FBI. But the company’s website has been taken down.
If you still plan to search for a pet online, the BBB said there is a legitimate website (https://petscams.com/) that tracks fake listings and scams.