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Pet Buyers Targeted in International Scam, BBB Warns

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There may be tens of thousands of victims.

ARLINGTON, VA – The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of an international scheme to sell non-existent puppies and other pets to unsuspecting consumers.

The scam “may be significantly more organized and widespread than generally believed,” according to a BB press release. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of an international scheme to sell non-existent puppies and other pets to unsuspecting consumers. 

In a new report, “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers,” BBB says the scams are so widespread that anyone searching for a pet online is likely to encounter them.

The report estimates that tens of thousands of consumers in the U.S. and around the world may have fallen victim, with prospective buyers losing anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars each. The report recommends coordinated and aggressive law enforcement and increased consumer education.

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“These cases can be devastating to families who are waiting for pets that will never come,” said Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “These are not just a few isolated cases of naïve consumers being taken. This is a highly organized, international scheme focused on one thing – stealing people’s money.”

The report was prepared by C. Steven Baker, retired director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Midwest Region now serving as an international investigations specialist for an alliance of five local BBBs based in St. Louis, Omaha, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas.

Most puppy scam victims are hooked into the scam by photos of cuddly terriers, miniature bulldogs or other puppies, BBB states. Other consumers believed they were paying for kittens, parrots or other animals to be delivered to their homes.

In the typical scam, thieves impersonate pet sellers and instruct potential buyers to make upfront payments for shipping, insurance and other fees.

In most cases, buyers never receive the pets, and they lose their money, according to BBB.

Most of the scams appear to originate in the West African nation of Cameroon and use workers in the U.S. to pick up wire payments sent through Western Union or MoneyGram.

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Here’s How Much People Plan to Spend on Their Pets This Holiday Season

SunTrust conducted a poll.

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ATLANTA — Pet owners are not holding back on holiday cheer for their furry friends, a new report has found.

Half of Americans are putting their pets on their gift list, planning to spend an average of $137 on four-legged family members this holiday season, according to the SunTrust (NYSE: STI) National Financial Confidence Poll.

“For many people, pets are members of the family, so it’s expected that we would want to include them in the holiday fun,” said Brian Nelson Ford, financial well-being executive at SunTrust. “Our studies show that the holiday season often comes with pressure to overspend. Gifts for pets, friends, neighbors and other obligations can add to the pressure when the spending is unplanned. It’s important to be upfront about what we care about, and build our holiday spending plan to enjoy the memory-making moments of the holidays.”

In the timeless debate of cats versus dogs, the survey finds that dog owners are significantly more likely to buy a gift for their furry friend (59%) compared to cat owners (34%). What are they giving? The most common selections are new treats and toys (65% and 61%, respectively), followed by holiday clothing (19%). Younger pet owners are significantly more likely to buy their pets a gift this season, leading with Gen Z (63%) and millennials (57%), followed by Gen X and Boomers (51% and 46%, respectively).

The SunTrust National Financial Confidence Poll is fielded quarterly and is representative of the U.S. adult population, with 2,500 participating Americans of different ages, incomes and geographic regions. Statistics referenced in this release are from the poll fielded in Q3 2019. The survey defines Gen Z as those born from 1997 on, millennials as those born between 1981 and 1997, Gen Xers as those born between 1965 and 1980, and Boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964.

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Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

It was unveiled in College Station, TX.

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A statue has been unveiled honoring a service dog that assisted President George H.W. Bush.

The life-size bronze piece was commissioned by America’s VetDogs, Inside Edition reports. Created by Susan Bahary, it went on display at Bush’s presidential library in College Station, TX.

The dog, Sully H.W. Bush, is a yellow labrador trained to perform a wide variety of tasks, including answering the phone and fetching items. A year ago he flew with the presidential casket, accompanying the former president’s body from Houston to Washington.

The dog “looked impressed by his likeness,” according to Inside Edition.

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Pet Food Company to Launch with $5.6M in Funding

Investors include Will Smith and other celebrities.

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LOS ANGELES — Direct-to-consumer pet wellness brand Jinx is launching with $5.65 million in funding from high-profile investors such as Will Smith and family, rapper NAS, singer Halsey, late-night host and YouTube star Lilly Singh, TV host and former NFL hall-of-famer Michael Strahan and soccer star Daniel Sturridge.

The brand will officially launch in January at www.ThinkJinx.com, with future expansion plans into retail.

Jinx “will offer a nutritionally comprehensive and calorically balanced kibble and treat lines made with high-quality ingredients and proprietary formulas that eliminate artificials and fillers, and use only the best proteins and superfoods – starting with Organic Chicken and a medley of powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” according to a press release.

Jinx was founded by former Casper mattress executives Sameer Mehta and Michael Kim. It’s led by CEO Terri Rockovich.

“You are not a caveman, and your dog is not a wolf. Our dogs have evolved and have lifestyles full of doggie playdates, trips to the park, long naps and human cuddles,” Rockovich said. “Jinx is inspired by a modern perspective on advanced nutrition that will help our dogs sustain their healthy, advanced lifestyles.”

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The investment in Jinx was led by Alexis Ohanian of Initialized Capital, with participation from Align Ventures, Brand Foundry, Sinai Ventures, Wheelhouse Group, &vest and NQV8.

“The pet industry is on track to exceed $75 billion this year, fueled by millennial pet owners,” Ohanian said. “They’re spending more on pet food than any other generation and even delaying life milestones to care for their pets. Now is the time for a brand like Jinx.”

 

 

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