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AG Nessel warns of puppy scammers taking advantage of COVID blues

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Monday warned prospective petbuyers to beware scammers are preying on people's post-lockdown loneliness by selling them pets that do not exist.

"Given the increased number of those staying at home during the ongoing public health emergency, many are turning to the internet to adopt a furry friend for companionship," the statement said. "Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic as they use it as a reason to avoid in-person vis its and demand additional fees."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel holds Gucci, a 10-year-old Shi Tzu,  at a media conference held at the Humane Society, Detroit, on Thursday, April 18, 2019

Nessel has warned of such scams before, once as she held a Shi Tzu named Gucci at an April 2019 press conference. But the AG's office says it has seen a "surge" in complaints regarding puppy scams. 

Of the 50 complaints the AG's office has received about pet scams since 2018, 26 have come this year, the statement said.

Among the state's tips for avoiding a scam: use a credit card rather than a wire transfer app, as credit card transactions are easier to trace, and never purchase a pet "sight-unseen."