Utica and Rome beware! New York State Police have received multiple calls from people scammed out of hundreds of dollars after answering ads claiming to sell purebred puppies.

Victims report after answering the ad, the suspects provide a stock photo of the breed and immediately ask for a deposit. Once it's cleared, the victim is provided an address, which does not exist, to pick up their puppy.

• A deposit is requested via payment apps, such as Zelle or CashApp.
• All interaction with the “breeder” is via text.
• An address for the puppies is not provided until after the deposit is made.
• The “breeder” sends the victim stock photos of whatever breed they are looking for, i.e., Labrador Retriever, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog.

The American Kennel Club says reputable breeders communicate in person or via email or video chat. They are very particular about who they sell their puppies to and often have many requirements, including a fenced-in backyard. They will use real photos or videos of the puppies and not ask for a sketchy payment of gift cards.  Protect yourself by using a credit card to Paypal.

Price is too good to be true? The AKC says purebred dogs sold at deeply discounted prices are typically frauds. If the seller says they register their dogs with a specific organization, you can call the organization to confirm.

Instead of purchasing a pet, consider adopting. Many of our local shelters are willing to work with families to find the perfect pet for their lifestyle and environment. Pets end up in shelters for various reasons, and most of the time, it's not their fault.

Adopting is a feel-good experience. Did you know that over 1,700 dogs and cats are killed in America’s shelters every day because they don’t have a home? When you adopt your next best friend, you'll know you really did save a life.

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