FAIRFAX, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Fairfax County Police confirm to FOX 5 they are investigating several possible puppy scams, including a website appearing to target people across the country, but using a county address.
Tennessee resident Tracee Austin contacted FOX 5 after she paid $850 for a beagle puppy she ordered through the website NationalBeagleHome.com and got no puppy.
Austin says she missed red flags during the process because she was emotional after the recent loss of her miniature pinscher.
"We were so looking forward to getting this new puppy and the new addition to our family that I kind of wasn't thinking clearly," Austin said.
The Better Business Bureau reports National Beagle Home is the subject of three scam reports in its database. Customers from California to New Jersey have reported similar stories to Austin's, paying for a puppy, losing hundreds or thousands of dollars and getting nothing in return.
In correspondences reviewed by FOX 5, the website uses the name of a supposed breeder Patti Donald and an address on Guinea Road in Fairfax County.
A homeowner at the address says Donald doesn't live there and police say he appears to be an innocent victim of the scheme.
The BBB says during the COVID-19 pandemic reports of puppy scams have skyrocketed with an estimated 4,000 reports noted in the United States and Canada.
In an email to FOX 5, someone claiming to work for National Beagle Home would only say "I'll take care of it," when a reporter asked if Austin would get her money back and about allegations of theft of funds.
"We've learned a hard lesson here and we will, I will never buy anything like that online again," Austin said.
To avoid scams, BBB recommends people try to see the pet in person before paying any money or visiting a local animal shelter.