Live 5 Scambusters: James Island man falls victim to online puppy scam

Live 5 Scambusters: James Island man falls victim to online puppy scam

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - If you’re thinking about buying a new puppy and you’ve found a loveable dog online, you need to take some steps to make sure you don’t get taken by a puppy scam.

Dennis Radzinksi and his wife live part-time in an RV at James Island County Park. They were dog shopping in early December for a new puppy that would fit their RV lifestyle. They settled on a miniature pinscher and started searching for breeders online.

Radzinski found a breeder based out of Virginia and they fell in love with a puppy named Belle. After contacting the breeder through the website, they began the process of buying their new family pet.

“He wanted $400 for the puppy and $200 for shipping,” Radzinski said. “That was from his place right to our door.”

Radzinski said the breeder gave him the option of using PayPal for the purchase, or sending a MoneyGram to make sure the dog would be shipped immediately. Radzinski chose the latter, hoping to get Belle the next day.

The following day, their puppy didn’t arrive, but the couple got an email from the shipping company. It said the company needed $975 for a special crate to ship the animal.

Radzinski hesitated and told the breeder he wanted his money back. The breeder wanted to make sure the deal went through, so he offered to split the cost and Dennis would get 80% of his money back once the crate was returned.

“After he talked to me I thought, if the guy’s going to put in another 500 bucks, he’s gotta be on the up and up,” Radzinski said.

He sent the money for the crate, bringing his total cost up to $1,095. He still didn’t have his dog but he felt assured the new puppy was on its way.

“The third morning, we get another email from the shipper and it went on to say that they needed this for a vaccination, that much for a vaccination, this much for a vaccination,” Radzinski said.

The email went on to claim Radzinski also owed a city permit for $300 while the dog waited in Atlanta. The shipping company was asking for a total of $545 more. At this point, Radzinski had enough.

“I said this is beginning to sound like a scam, which should have been done two days earlier,” Radzinski said.

Dennis and his wife ultimately found another miniature pinscher through a different breeder in North Carolina. This time they drove to pick him up in person.

The Better Business Bureau put out an alert with tips to protect yourself from pet scams:

  • See the pet in person before buying to make sure the animal is real.
  • Don’t wire money or use pre-paid debit cards of gift cards to pay.
  • Check around to see if the deal you’re getting is too good to be true.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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