PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you’re thinking about buying a puppy for the holiday season, the Better Business Bureau is warning people looking for a new furry friend to watch out for scams.

According to the Better Business Bureau, they’ve seen a nearly 40 percent increase of puppy scams since 2017.

In the past 3 years, BBB reports they’ve received nearly 16,000 complaints about scams promising buyers a puppy — and that’s only with an estimated 10 percent of victims reporting the scams.

“The websites are sophisticated, where they include pictures of adorable looking pets, videos. They have names,” Caitlin Driscoll with the BBB said.

The BBB says scammers like to take advantage of high emotion situations like buying a puppy.

The scams usually involve puppy sellers asking consumers to send money through online money transfer services like Western Union or Moneygram. Then, the seller will make up excuses for why the puppy can’t be delivered right away, whether it’s an airline requiring a specific pet crate or the shipper requiring expensive pet insurance.

The scammers will create a problem that needs to be paid for in advance with the empty promise they will repay the victim once the puppy is delivered. However, the puppy is never delivered and the money is never refunded.

For those looking to buy a puppy this holiday season, the Better Business Bureau recommends trying to meet the seller and the puppy in person before the transaction and to never sent money through online money transfer services to people you don’t know.

For more ways to protect yourself, the BBB has tips on their website.