MT. VERNON, Ky. (WYMT) - A Mt. Vernon man is out $350 and his daughter is heartbroken after falling victim for an online scam.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says the family was scammed by a website called "deluxecattery.com". The man and his 14-year-old daughter were looking for a Bengal kitten.
The website had photos of Bengal kittens, with names and details on how to care for the cats. The father called the company's phone number, which had a Georgia area code, and filled out forms through email.
“The cats are expensive, but this website had them for a little bit less than other sites,” the victim said. “Then they wanted a $350 down payment, which seemed reasonable. They offered shipping for a little more, but I decided to drive down with my daughter to pick up the kitty.”
To pay the down payment of $350, the Mt. Vernon man was asked to pay with Amazon gift cards. After buying the cards and sending pictures of the back of the cards to the company, the father and daughter drove several hours to a nice home near Atlanta to pick up their new kitten.
When the pair arrived, a man answered the door. He had no idea what the family was talking about. Heartbroken, they went back home without an exotic kitten and with their money gone. When the father tried calling and emailing the Deluxe Cattery, no one answered.
BBB investigated the online cat adoption company and found several red flags. The company has no physical address. Its phone number has a Georgia area code but its website says the breeding establishment is in Ohio. It also claims to be a member of The International Cat Association, but the membership roster does not list the Deluxe Cattery.
Reviews on the phony website appear word-for-word on other pet adoption sites, BBB also discovered. The website's domain name is registered to a domain company based in Panama.
BBB has several tips for anyone looking to buy a pet online:
· Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering and any customer testimonials. If either appears on multiple websites, you may be dealing with a fraud.
· Never pay a stranger by an untraceable method, such as Western Union or reloadable cash cards (Amazon, iTunes, etc.) Once the scammer has the information from the cards, he can empty it and you cannot recover the value. Use a credit card in case you need to dispute charges.
· Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred or exotic pet for free or at a deeply discounted price, it could be a scam.
· Verify any affiliation claims by the seller with the organization, such as The International Cat Association or other memberships and certifications. Do a search online of the breeder to see if any questionable articles appear.