You may have heard about puppy scams: a scammer on Craigslist claims to be a dog breeder but has just copied someone else's ad -- and asks you to wire him money for the (non-existent) dog.
Now, though, the ruse appears to be getting slicker, with full-fledged websites taking money and not delivering.
Pure mini-schnauzers, half-price
Jo Standridge is a dog lover who wanted a schnauzer pup to replace her schnauzer who passed away. So she searched for breeders.
"I ran across this website, and it said, 'sale,' which is my middle name," she said.
BestMiniShnauzers.com was offering purebred pups for 50 percent off.
"They were $400 and $150 for shipping, and I said, 'That's not too bad,'" she said.
Standridge tried to pay with PayPal, though it was rejected. So she called the number on the website (there was no address).
"The man who answered said, 'Why don't you Western Union it to me?'" she said.
Reluctantly, she wired $400 cash. It was a bad idea, because next day, she got some bad news.
"He says 'I've got this little problem with my cargo carrier. They want insurance, $1,200 for insurance,'" Standridge said. She was not going to wire an addition $1,200, after sending him $400, so she asked for a refund -- but it was too late.
"I've tried to text him numerous times after that," she said. "Called him, couldn't get through, that was the end of the communications. Nothing."
We found complaints about BestMiniSchnauzers.com all over pet forums from other dog lovers like her.
The consumer blog PetScams.com claims "families are handing over small fortunes to BestMiniSchnauzers.com, which uses stolen pet pictures to sell fictitious animals online."
No one knows where the site is located, but Standridge's PayPal statement (where her initial payment was rejected) shows the seller is apparently not in the USA at all.
"Down on the bottom was an international charge," she said.
We called the phone number on the website. The man who answered would not give his name, but he told us he does not know any Jo Standridge and did not take any money from her. He claims she must be mistaken, and must have ordered her pup from somewhere else.
Last we checked, the site was still up, still offering cute puppies for $500, and apparently still breaking hearts.
As always don't waste your money.
"Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com