Watertown Police Department

The Watertown Police Department says internet scammers are now using online pet sales to steal money from unsuspecting victims who believe their pet is on its way to their new home, when in fact there was never really an animal at all. The scammers are deceiving would be buyers by using readily available online photos or by using stolen photos of other people's pets to represent the nonexistent animal.  

Police says at least two residents have fallen victim to this scam. 

The victims went to the airport expecting to pick up the pets which never arrived.  The Better Business Bureau is warning that online puppy scams are skyrocketing in South Dakota.  Jesse Schmidt of the Better Business Bureau says the Covid-19 pandemic is a convenient tool for scammers because some people believe it's a good time to add a family pet...... 

Schmidt says first and foremost, avoid buying a pet without going to see it first.... 

Schmidt says most of these fraudulent websites originate in West Africa so chances of recovering lost money are slim to none. She says if you're looking for a pet, your best bet is locally at an animal shelter or through a reputable breeder.