Coronavirus puppy scams come with ‘red flags,’ expert says: Illegal Tender podcast

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

Many dog owners will look back at the coronavirus lockdown and self-quarantine as the start of their puppy journey.

This season of “Illegal Tender” explores the world of online puppy scams through conversations with two victims and one industry watchdog.

This episode, concluding the season, is a conversation with Josh Kreinberg, chief administrative officer and general counsel at PuppySpot. Kreinberg is a dog owner and dog lover who’s dedicated his professional life to working for a company that places dogs with forever homes. 

Through his work at PuppySpot, Kreinberg is an expert when it comes to identifying online puppy scams and how would-be dog owners can protect themselves from becoming victims.  

The desire to welcome a new dog into your world might be so strong that you ignore the scam red flags such as sending money electronically without ever seeing the dog or working with an alleged breeder who makes demands and who you can never pin down. 

Kreinberg shares what he’s seen over the years as a warning for all hopeful dog parents.

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

Stephanie Asymkos: This is Illegal Tender, season six. I’m Stephanie Asymkos.

Josh Kreinberg: I’m Josh Kreinberg. I’m the chief administrative officer and general counsel for PuppySpot. PuppySpot is a company that helps customers find puppies from our network of screened and vetted dog breeders all across the country. We put a lot of work into the screening portion of breeders. We have a scientific advisory board of former regulators and veterinarians, animal ethicists who cooperate with American Humane to kind of really put a lot into making sure we’re dealing with the best breeders. Then, we’ve got a website where our puppies have photos and videos and descriptions. Consumers navigate to the website, they find a dog that they’re interested in. They’ll talk to our puppy concierges onsite. They’ll walk through different types of breeds and dogs and what’s going to be a good fit for them. We screen the customers to make sure that this is going to be a lifelong placement for the dog, you know, a 10 to 14 year commitment.

Then our breeders then take the dogs to a veterinarian, a licensed veterinarian that administers a health test that we’ve set forth. Then we confirm with the customer, go over all the results of all that and then we travel the dog to the customers using a variety of different travel methods all designed to sort of the most humane way we can … that puppies can travel. Then the customer gets the puppy, and they in turn take the dog to their veterinarian. They go through a health test. Then we have a health guarantee that kicks in, a 10-year health guarantee after that.

SA: Oh, wow.

JK:  So, that’s basically the business. It’s your typical thing of taking a traditionally very kind of local high touch and feel experience, adding a level of subject matter expertise to the screening part and leveraging the internet to really kind of help people extend beyond locally to find what they’re looking for, and at the same time, to build that trust piece that otherwise is missing from having your own visual inspection and being able to meet with a breeder.

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: Right. Because when people arrive at the decision to get a dog, you hope that someone is in for this 10 to 14-year commitment, unless they’re adopting a senior dog. [crosstalk 00:02:48] Sometimes they arrive at a decision sometimes, and it’s either out of a depression or a vulnerability. They have [crosstalk 00:02:57] they had lost someone very close to them. Or they arrive at the decision, and it’s a really exciting time. It’s like welcoming a new baby, a new member of the family. So, it’s this process that really is emotional for people, so they probably have a little bit of longing and desperation. Is that sort of how these scams start? Is it just this confluence of all of these emotions and that’s when they strike?

JK:  You’re absolutely right. You hit the nail on the head. It’s such an emotional part of your life to get a new furry family member. It can be an incredibly fantastic, positive thing. They’re so great for emotional support, for just interaction, even for physical wellness. You exercise and you feel better. That’s what makes our business so fun is making those matches, but it’s also what makes people so susceptible to something like that. You’re right, the people will be … they’ll have anxiety. They’ll be depressed otherwise. That may be one reason that they’re looking for a dog. It certainly opens them up to being potential victims of something going wrong.

SA: Yeah. When someone wouldn’t use … I guess my question is, the opportunity for these scams is so great because people just want to find … I grew up with a Bichon, so it’s something-

JK: Yeah, I have one. 

SA: Oh, you do?

JK:  Yeah, yeah. 

SA: Oh my gosh, I knew we got along. 

JK:  If I can find him, I’ll pop him on the camera here for a second. 

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: Oh my god, please do. 

JK: I will. I’ll find him. For sure by the time we’re done, I’ll find him. 

SA: Oh, good. Our Bichon, who passed many years ago, but he came into our lives when I was in the fifth grade. That was well before the internet. That was something that … I mean, that’s going down a whole tangent that I don’t need to go down here, but-

JK:  But it’s a fun tangent to go down. 

SA: I know. Memories. Memories. These scams, people are just ripe for them. Right?

JK: Yeah. Yeah.

SA: If I just searched Bichon puppies in Google, what would come up? Would they all be above board? Would it be a mix? Is it hard to tell? I’m nervous that I’m going to turn [crosstalk 00:05:46] right now, but-

JK:  Your search results would be a mix. Hopefully you would see PuppySpot up there pretty high in your search results. Obviously, we have a service that we put a lot of effort into making sure that it’s really helpful to people. You’ll see some individual breeders that will be listed there. You also will see some listing sites that are actually legitimate commerce listing sites but that are just a basic classified type ad. You will also invariably see some folks that are out there that are not legitimate that will be some of the results that you’ll wind up getting as well.

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: The two similarities that the two women had were that they were both Facebook pages. Is that just don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole? Don’t go there. What’s your take on a breeder that only exclusively has a Facebook page, not something that there’s a Facebook page that brings you to another website? 

JK: Yeah, I think that’s definitely a good point. The Facebook pages alone are an indicator, because they’re easy for somebody to stand up. It’s not determinative necessarily, but I think for us the best indicators are when you start clicking through that and you start seeing things like … Carefully look at the photos. You’ll see photos that may be stock footage. They’ll look too perfect. In fact, you may even recognize those photos, or if you’d use some of the photo search tools, you’ll see the same photos somewhere else because what some scammers do is they don’t have a puppy to begin with, so they basically go and they’ll scrape a picture somewhere. I mean, it may be stock footage. It may be off of a legit site. So, you will some commonality in some of the photos. That’s usually one of the first key indicators is the photos. 

Then another really … Unfortunately because a lot of people that are running some of these scams, either they don’t put enough effort into how they do their scams, thankfully for folks, so there are some flags. Or they’re running them from overseas. So, another thing that you’ll see fairly frequently is bad grammar and some weird phrasing and things like that. So, if you’re seeing those things as well, those are other indicators that you’ve stumbled across something that’s not really a legit service. 

Those are on its face kind of two of the key things. You’re right, that if you’re navigating to an actual website that’s got some substance to it, that’s a little more certainty there and rather than just kind of a Facebook page. There are some legitimate services that do have Facebook pages up there. 

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: This isn’t exclusive to scams, but in my reporting, I have found that some people will receive an ultrasound photo and puppies are in utero and they’ve not been born yet. Is that something that is strange or off putting? In just some of my reporting, I found that people … that their breeders have started bidding wars between people. Is that another red flag of just, “Maybe walk away.”?

JK: Yeah. I would not be comfortable with that. First off, at PuppySpot, we only are listing puppies who are actually born and they’re at a bare minimum a few weeks old. You can see good pictures of them, et cetera. There are some breeders and the like that demand is so high that they are trying to place dogs before they’re born. I haven’t heard of folks advertising off of ultrasound photos. I would be very, very, very cautious of something like that. I would want to make sure I really understood the service or the breeder through several other third-party sources before I moved forward with anything like that. 

SA: Right. How about with … I mean, I think that both of the people I talked to used PayPal as a way of sending a deposit. That [crosstalk 00:10:35] … Neither of them were allowed to touch or feel or play with the dog in advance. Conveniently, the scammers completely played to the climate of the world and said, “We’re not doing puppy meet and greets because of COVID. We want to make this a contactless transaction.” You’re familiar with Suzanne’s story, right?

JK: Yeah. 

SA: So, it’s all too convenient and no one is dumb. It’s not a measure of intelligence. In any means, something like that, that sounds totally plausible. Is that something that you would recommend? I have to ask you two questions in that. [crosstalk 00:11:28] One was about a contactless transaction for puppies. 

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

JK: Yeah. You’re absolutely right. The people are playing on the current fears there. The same scam people have kind of run that and aspects of that in other times, like in the holiday season anyway even without the contact-less aspect of COVID. That definitely adds an element where you can see where people might believe the legitimacy of it a little more.

The payment method is absolutely key, because a good responsible service, whether that’s for breeding or if you’re looking to adopt or deal with a rescue, they’re going to have set it up so you can pay by credit card because that is certainly the best way to do it for yourself as a consumer protection method anyway, because you’ve got the credit card standing there as well. Our experience and in hearing Suzanne’s story, it’s very similar to what unfortunately we’ve heard so many times of people where they are looking for Apple Pay, Zelle. The biggest one is Western Union and any sort of untraceable wiring is the way they will often, often direct payment for something like that. 

So, that is a really key red flag if they can’t take a credit card payment as well as just an issue for you generally as a consumer. You know when you’re paying with credit card, you’ve got the credit card company that you can always go back through and address issues with. So, that’s really a big red flag.

The part about not being able to come see your dog ahead of time, like physically, that’s one of these things where when you are dealing with some remote services like ours, there is an aspect where you may not be able to touch and feel your dog ahead of time. At the flip side of that, we will provide photos. We’ll provide videos. We will facilitate conference calls with the breeders. There’s a bunch of things that we’ll do to help you deal with that aspect of it. Again, back to our photo question, if you’re seeing just stock photos and people are saying, “Please wire me the money,” those are things that are particularly concerning as far as that goes. One of the other … Go ahead. Sorry. 

SA: People just being aggressive too.

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

JK: Yeah, yeah. 

SA: Both of the women that I connected with, it was a matter of days. It was like a Thursday and a Sunday they were driving [crosstalk 00:14:21]. You mentioned you’re familiar with Suzanne’s story, it was like inside of a week. Is that an appropriate timeline, or does that feel rushed?

JK: As far as completing the placement or adoption of a dog?

SA: Yeah.

JK: So, there are a couple of things there. In the current world, it’s a little bit similar at the holiday times. With the COVID explosion of really interest in adopting and buying dogs, there’s a lot of really high demand and a supply issue. You hate to talk about dogs being living, breathing things as something to be surprised, but it is. It’s true. So, there’s a little bit of an issue of supply where you see some things accelerated more than usual. There is real demand concern.

One of the things that should absolutely happen in any of these placements is you need to make sure … No responsible breeder or adoption service at all will agree to place a dog with you without screening you, without going through a process where they’re asking you questions about, “Is this puppy, or is this adult dog a good fit for your family? Do you live in an apartment? 

Do you live in a home? Do you have a fenced-in yard? How active are you?”, kind of walking through all those things because they’re going to be rigorous about that to the extent this is legit. 

A lot of these services, of course, they don’t do that, all of the scam services. In fact, one of the things in particular too is, they usually actually start by … the first aggressive part comes in aggressive email communication. They maybe easier for them to crank through that exercise. Then they’ll get you on the phone but off of a main channel. It won’t be a 1-800 number usually. It’ll be something them calling you. Although, it’s not always indicative. When they get you off the phone then, then it gets really interesting. With you on the phone, it gets really interesting. 

In addition to the aggressive tactics, one of the other things that you’ll see … and almost a complete disregard for the dogs because you’ll hear a lot of … none of the screening stuff and trying to match. You’ll also get some of these crazy, crazy stories, which can be … They may not seem so crazy in the context, but they start becoming crazy like, “Travel is really, really expensive right now, so we’ve got a travel surcharge. We need you to, after your initial Western Union payment, we need you to pay another one at this point,” or, “Your dog has started traveling to you, but it’s stuck at the airport. I need an insurance payment in order to get your dog covered.” 

Unfortunately, it sounded like some of the things that Suzanne experienced, which are very typical was, “Now we’ve switched to this different travel method. My car has broken down. I need more money to drive the dog to you,” and just kind of this series of continuing to try to bleed you out of money that’s sent to them in a way you can’t get it back. It’s a Western Union payment-

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: Meanwhile, you are thinking that this dog is real, and now the dog is a hostage. 

JK:  Exactly, you’re terrified. 

SA: You’re trying to get this dog out of this shady, potentially dangerous situation. “This is a helpless animal. I need to rescue this dog.”

JK:  Yeah. I mean, it’s really sad that people go through these exercises and do this to people. About 15 years ago, I actually was working in the internet dating business. It was actually very … unfortunately similar thing with romance scams, they called them at the time, where you have something, somebody that someone’s got a real vested personal interest in, they thing, because it’s kind of built up over the internet with no substantiation or not enough. It’s this very similar thing where people get a story of this person I think I’ve met online is stuck overseas, “Can you please Western Union me some money to get me back?” It’s very similar. It’s the same thing, playing on people’s emotions. Really kind of a desperate attempt. 

Those are often the things that we see in the consistent factors, really the photo issues, the grammar issues, the aggressive communication, the additional payments, the payments by methods you can’t trace or get back, all of those pieces unfortunately. We’d normally see them out there at the holiday times in particular, and COVID has just caused so many people to really feel and kind of feel anxious and interested in getting a puppy. To your point, they’re susceptible to things like, “Hey, this is all part of contact-less delivery. This is why we need to do it this way. Please wire us more money.”

SA: Yeah. I guess let’s talk about the seasonality of puppy scams too. What’s another time that people should have their antenna up besides [crosstalk 00:20:06] holidays?

JK:  I think you want to be vigilant all the time, as with any of this good stuff. In the past prior to the COVID experience, we saw the same thing every holiday season, like in November, December, because there are a lot of people that want to either adopt a dog or get a puppy before the holidays. 

SA: I feel like it’s a big gift to give someone.

JK: Certainly. We are very anti-gifting that, like gifting a puppy-

SA: Yeah. I’ve read that it’s a huge amount of anxiety for these little dogs.

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

JK:  Yeah, for sure. Also, again back to our point about screening and vetting the customer, we want to make sure that any match we make is a lifetime match. To your point before, we’re talking about, in our business, we’re talking about the puppies who ‘ve got 10 to 14 years of this. We want to make sure they’re in their forever homes, because if for whatever reason we don’t screen well, that’s going to be our responsibility to make sure we place that dog in a forever home anyway. We commit to making sure we do that for customers and being what we’re in. 

Again, every holiday season, every Christmas time, you see a lot of people, again, trying to take advantage of people out there. So, what we regularly do is we publish a set of tips. We enhance our own screening, as I was saying, to protect the dogs anyway, but we push that information out there. We’ve worked with different law enforcement agencies to try to help assist them giving them information to be aware of it. We’ve been part of some consumer protection groups and state groups in helping them publish tips about how to be vigilant for these sorts of things every holiday season as it’s rolled around. 

In COVID, we’ve seen the same sort of thing. We’ve got a part of our website where we do a fight puppy scams submission where we collect information from people who’ve been victims of this so we can help them find solutions but also help aggregate some of that to give to law enforcement folks as well. There’s a steady trickle of that that comes in, because it’s out there all the time. Since March, we’ve really seen an acceleration of that. We ourselves, I was just looking today, literally today I saw five people report into us that they’ve been a victim of some type of scam.

SA: What is it on average?

JK: On average, normally-

SA: In pre-COVID times?

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

JK:  It’s normally about 20 a month that we’re getting, but we had five today. 

SA: Whoa. 

JK: Yeah. So, it’s really unfortunate, but there are bad actors out there who will prey on anything, including a global pandemic, as a method to do that. 

SA: Let’s shift gears a little bit here. Let’s say that this happened to me. Right?

JK: Yeah. 

SA: I sent my money through Venmo or  PayPal. Then I also sent money through Western Union. Then I was communicating with someone with a very oddly generic name on WhatsApp. 

JK: Right. 

SA: They were aggressive and pushy and all of these things. No dog ever materialized. I bought my dog bed and I have my dog bowl and I have a dog name. What do I do? I sent my money through a digital platform. The person that I thought I was texting no longer is active. It wasn’t even a real phone number. I mean, it was a real phone number in the sense it existed, but it doesn’t connect to any actual landline or … like a burner for lack of a better term. What do I do? 

JK:  There’s a couple of things sort of on the front end that you could try to do even just generally as this stuff is unfolding. One is just, other than the avoid it completely we talked about, there’s screenshots and recordings and things like that you should just generally do with some of these types of purchases. You can do some things along those lines that if you have that stuff, it may be helpful. 

What we do when people come to us with that kind of experience is, we help them go through a reporting to … there’s an FTC reporting you can do. There’s a local law enforcement reporting. You can report to Homeland Security some of these as well. There’s an FBI reporting that you can do. It’s really kind of pushing some of that stuff out, because the law enforcement piece can be helpful.

The second piece is, you can try depending upon where you are in the process of any of these payments, you may be able to recapture them before they go through on some of them if you realize quickly. Usually, the experience is somebody makes the first payment, maybe the second payment. Then they … like the person’s asking for more money, and so usually they can try to save the third one to some extent when that happens. Those pieces can be helpful, but it’s kind of the assemble anything that you have as far as proof for sure, any kind of tracking things.

We’ve been somewhat successful in aiding some people who come to us in navigating the IP aspects of what they have as traces of, is this a website, et cetera. We’ve also done some things where we’ve been able to help them by issuing a cease and desist to some of these things to the extent there’s a website that’s actually standing up, and some piece of it is still there before it all disappears. So, we’ve been somewhat able to succeed with some of that, but the biggest thing is trying to get through avoidance and trying to follow some of these tips to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s why these things seem to work is they can stand them up and make them disappear just like that. So, you don’t really have many traces

Consolidating the information with law enforcement with as much proof as you can gather with regards to that. You can address some of the … Some of the domain names, you may be able to go through the host to be able to put in a complaint about that. You can maybe go through some of your payment mechanisms to try to complain about the vendor as part of that. It’s really tough. Once something like that happens, your money is usually gone. You’ve been emotionally devastated by the exercise. Through all of that at that point, you’re even more interested in getting a dog if you still trust anything along those lines. And you don’t have one going through this at this point. So, it’s really kind of tough. 

That’s sort of what we’d advocate after the fact. What we really want to do though is get in front of it as much as we possibly can to try to get people to avoid these things and get these folks kind of put out of business. 

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: Yeah. In my conversation with Suzanne, that was abundantly clear. We’re from two different generations. One, I’m a reporter, so I’m just naturally a cynical person. 

JK: Right. [crosstalk 00:28:21] You’re skeptical.

SA:  I’m just not satisfied with anything, and I’m just naturally skeptical. Two, I’m also a New Yorker, so there’s that layered upon that of just I trust no one, that that’s weird. That’s shady. Then there’s Suzanne in California, and she’s just like, “I give people the benefit of the doubt,” and just so nice. It’s like, “Oh, maybe I should tone it down a little bit and be a little bit nicer.” So, she said something. I think that I made her eyes widen a little bit. You’re familiar with her story and-

JK:  Yeah. 

SA: She said something about there was an address in Denver. I was like, “Well, did you Google that address?”

JK: Right. Right. 

SA: She was like, “Oh, well, my husband’s secretary Googled it, and it looked like a house.” I was like, “Whose house was it? Did you look up the public record of who owns that house?” She said, “No, I didn’t do that.” So, what would you say to someone … How do you be a little bit of Stephanie and a little bit of Suzanne and come in the middle of trusting people, giving them the benefit of the doubt but still being alert?

JK:  Right. I think it’s a trust but verify type of pitch is really the way you would articulate that. Yeah, you also don’t want to drive yourself completely bonkers with, “I need a blood test from this person to verify that they’re a living human being.” So, I think lots of third-party sources are a good way to check things out on the-

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: [crosstalk 00:30:12] Ask for reviews from the-

JK: [crosstalk 00:30:14] Reviews. You can look for reviews. On our website itself, we have a platform where all the customers are pushed a review, and it’s administered by a third-party. So, they’re all legit reviews. You can look to third-party sources as well. You can go to your Better Business Bureau to look for reviews, of course. You can look for Yahoo and Google reviews and Yelp and those sorts of things.

One of the things to bear in mind with some of those though is also, they’re not necessarily verified customers, but they are a third-party source of information. You can get people reviewing something that can be a little bit odd too. Look to reviews. Look to third-party information with regards to that. Do things like just like you suggested. If people pop up and you’re looking at a website, if there’s no address behind the website at all, if there’s no, “Contact Us,” that’s got some physical address referenced. Then to your point, you can grab that physical address and then Google it and see if it looks like a building, et cetera. 

Any sort of customer experience, I would kind of track as much of that as you can find. Any legitimate business is going to have customer experience up there. As far as the tips we already talked about, if the photos look too perfect and posed or you see them on other websites, that is a clear indicator. If you’re looking at grammar that doesn’t look like it’s good grammar, then that’s an issue too. 

I think there’s the types of conversations you have anyway. You pointed out as well that Suzanne experienced very, very aggressive sales techniques. To the extent someone’s being so aggressive with you makes you feel uncomfortable anyway, you shouldn’t progress with that. To me, a decision like getting a dog is such an important piece. Yes, you might, for some reason in these of times of high demand, you might miss out on the dog right at this moment, but if your process is too rushed, it’s not the right dog for you. A dog is going to be family member and a family member for the life of the dog. So, if somebody’s trying to really make you feel like you’ve got to get this dog this very second, then I would pump the brakes on that. I’d be cautious about that exercise. 

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: Yeah. I think that I have a last full circle question. For someone who is reluctant to step forward and going through all these steps, and you mentioned the FTC and the FBI, that’s pretty scary for a lot of people. You know?

JK: Yeah. 

SA: To some people, that also sounds like a lot of work. They have a new puppy. Puppies are a lot of work as it is. So, I guess for someone who’s reluctant to advocate or step forward, maybe talk about why it’s so important to come forward. 

JK: It’s so important because of what we just talked about you going through as an individual. You’re right, it’s one of these things. If you’ve been scammed in any aspect of life, part of you just wants to move on emotionally and just like this is so upsetting and so ridiculous that you want to just move on. The only way that we can actually help eradicate this type of behavior is if we can address it and catch some of these folks and push forward to kind of get this out of the system. 

Getting the information, even if in the end it actually doesn’t help us catch these particular scammers but helps us push out better tips and other learnings to people to help prevent your experience from happening to everybody else, that is a win for us to some extent. There’s some people, unfortunately, and I can feel for them for sure, who they are just so … The way they cope is they say, “I’m going to get these people,” which is a way of trying to deal with it. We’ve had a couple people come to us that said, “Tell me what I can do. Tell me what else you need, how we can go get them.” I’ve actually spent some time going over with them their … even Zooms looking at their computers with them trying to figure out, “Is there a trace here? Is there a trace there?”, what we could do to try to help them do it. I think it was in the hopes that we’re going to do something but also to help them cope, because this was their way of doing it. They wanted to try to do everything they could to-

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

SA: Yeah. I mean, it’s a vendetta at that point. It’s just an ax to grind of like, “I want to [crosstalk 00:35:42] … No one’s going to stand after I’m done.” I can [crosstalk 00:35:46] that for sure. I feel like everyone has to make their own … If you’ve been a victim, sadly of this scam or any other kind, I feel like you have to make your own peace with it. Then it’s for you to figure out how you want to move forward. That’s a really, really personal decision for people. I can understand that. It’s not easy to come forward and say, “I got got.”

You know what, Josh? I’ll tell you something that when I put this call out for people to connect with me for this podcast, I promised full anonymity. I’ll give you pseudonyms, whatever you need. Both women I talked to, they said, “Nope, put my name out there. It’s fine. I want people to know.” So, I just thought that there was a lot of power in that.

JK:  Yeah. Yeah, there is. Like I said, that’s the same attitude I was referencing. There’s some folks that are just like, “I really want to make sure people hear this, and we can address whatever we can do with regards to it.”

SA: Yeah. I think that as long as we [crosstalk 00:37:05] … the money … I mean, I feel like we’re never, and this is me being jaded, but we’re never going to eliminate scammers off the face of the earth. But if we can keep money out of their hands or try to keep money out of their hands and kind of put an end to these fake enterprises, I think that that’s a start, I think maybe.

JK: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a great assessment too. If we can at least make it more difficult for them to achieve their scams, then that’s definitely a step in the right direction, a start as you say.

SA: Absolutely. Cool. Oh my gosh, we’ve gone so much over in time. Is there anything else that I … I feel like we’ve come at this from just about every angle. Is there anything else that we didn’t address? We can talk more about [crosstalk 00:38:01] … We could talk about [crosstalk 00:38:05].

JK: The one thing we definitely have to do is I’ve got to go find Picasso, my Bichon, and so I can show it to you, which I’ll do in a moment here. Yeah, yeah. He’s definitely a Picasso character. I’ll go grab him. 

SA: I love it. Okay. 

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

JK: Yeah, I think we’ve pretty much covered a lot of the things that we’ve seen. I’ve been at this company for five years. We’ve been fighting this fight the whole time, and again, in the very cyclical holiday approach and now the same thing with COVID and kind of doing everything we can. I think one of the factors that people can do is they can go with services that they know. Work with us. We put a lot of effort into all we do, and it’s a great way to make sure that you’re screening breeders as well.

You can always adopt from any local Humane Society if they have dogs. Again, we’re out there online, but there’s also things you need to be careful of as you kind of go through. 

All right, I’m going to go grab Picasso. I’ll be right back.

SA: Okay. 

JK: All right. So, in fairness, this is the ungroomed Picasso from three months of being in social distancing. He’s our little Bichon. 

SA: Oh, so sweet. How old is he?

JK: He’s four. 

SA: Aw, Picasso.

JK: Yeah.

This is the third and final part of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the puppy crimes of quarantine and online puppy scams. Listen to the series here.

Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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