Man searching for English Bulldog online becomes victim of pandemic puppy scam

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STREETSBORO, Ohio (WJW) –  Todd Phillips was hoping to find the perfect puppy for his girlfriend but says instead he ended up getting scammed.

“The red flags started popping up,” Phillips told the I-TEAM Thursday. “It all happened in like a three day period and I knew, it was just not going right.”

Phillips, who lives in Streetsboro with his girlfriend, said he found a website online claiming to sell English Bulldog puppies.  The website stated the owner lived in Akron.

“They have a very nice website and they ask all the right questions,” Phillips said. 

After looking at the pictures of the puppies on the website he decided to purchase a puppy named Beatrice. He made a $450 down payment and went out to purchase needed supplies, including some toys.

“So then, I didn’t hear anything on Tuesday,” Phillips explained. “I wasn’t too surprised. I was expecting her to be at the vet having all the procedures done because  I was to pick her up this past Friday, but then they sent me a message on Wednesday afternoon asking for the balance.”

Phillips emailed the seller back saying he would pay the full amount if he could visit with the puppy in person.  His request was denied.

“He said with COVID-19 no one can go over in person,” Phillips said.  He added the seller has not responded to any other emails he sent.

We also tried reaching the seller. We called and left messages but did not get a return call.

Sue McConnell, president of the Cleveland Better Business Bureau, says what happened to Phillips is happening to thousands of people across the country.

“Puppy scams have exploded especially during COVID-19,” McConnell said.

She added that before sending money people should always ask to meet the breeder and puppy in person.

“Also make sure to research the site carefully, Google the name of the company, Google the address they are using or their email address, and see if others have filed complaints,” McConnell suggested.

Phillips filed a police report this week and is hoping others learn from his mistake.

“If you are looking for an English bulldog do your homework,” Phillips said.  “I didn’t do my homework. “

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