Fairfax County Police investigating 'puppy scam'

During the holiday season and pandemic, many seem to be interested in adding a furry friend to the family.

People who live in the DMV, and even outside the area, contacted FOX 5 after being tricked into a puppy scam on Craigslist.

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A majority of the victims are parents who wanted to buy puppies for their children as a Christmas gift. The scammer ruined that for them.

Fairfax County Police confirm they are investigating multiple cases.

According to victims, here is how the scam works:

• They find the puppies on a Craigslist post.

• The scammer will text and talk to you by phone. It is a woman on the other line who sounds very nice and convincing.

• The scammer asks for $300 via Cash App adding if not, you may not get a puppy since they are in high demand.

• When the victims receive a receipt and go to the designated address, they realize it is scam.

Tiffany Rush in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, said the puppy was a bigger loss than the money.

“The $300 is very hard to lose at Christmas time. My kids aren’t going to get as much as they were going to get. They were going to get a puppy. Now that I lost $300, they’re not going to get gifts to make up for this,” said Rush.

She adds this is a tough lesson learned.

Rush’s friend sent her the post for a puppy without knowing it was a scam. Since she felt bad, she made this post as a warning to ensure no one else falls victim.

“I regret, very much, giving away money on something I didn’t know. I have always used PayPal. PayPal is the safest method to use. The woman didn’t use PayPal. That should’ve been my first red flag,” said Rush.

Some victims took matters into their own hands and tracked down the alleged scammer. They believe she lives in Fairfax County. Police did not confirm or deny that information.

The Fairfax Police Department provided some tips when buying items online from a stranger: 

• If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

• Slow down and do some research to see if it’s legitimate

• Be wary of a seller who will only communicate via email

• Avoid paying strangers with a money order or through a cash app.

• Use a credit card so you can dispute charges if needed.

If you believe you have been scammed, file a report with the county's Financial Crimes Online Reporting system at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police_FiCOR