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Consumer News

Adopt, Don’t Shop: City Attorney Warns Public of Holiday Puppy Scams

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LOS ANGELES — Focusing on protecting holiday shoppers, City Attorney Mike Feuer warns would-be dog dads and dog moms about online puppy-selling scams, which have increased substantially in recent months. Many online pet sales are run by criminal organizations.

Joined by LA City Animal Services’ General Manager Brenda Barnette, and eight-week old Dancer, Dasher and Comet, he encouraged people looking for a new fur-baby to adopt and not shop.

“The cuddly pictures will steal your heart, but the criminals behind these puppy scams will steal your money, sometimes into the thousands,” said Feuer. “Most victims who are swindled never get a puppy at all, others get different dogs with health or genetic problems, and the majority of victims are too embarrassed to come forward. Puppy scams are one more reason to adopt and not shop.”

“If you are ready to add more love to your life and are considering a new dog or cat, visit one of our six Los Angeles City Animal Care Centers and meet some of our fantastic shelter guests who are hoping you will give them a home of their own before the holidays,” said Barnette. “The adoption fee for a dog is only $122 and includes vaccinations, a microchip, a city dog license and all pets are spayed or neutered. These great pets will repay you with joy for years to come.”

Puppy selling scams are simple. The scammer purports to offer dogs for sale via a custom website and ads on Facebook, Craigslist and other platforms. They interact with victims by email, text or over the phone to convince them they have a pet to sell. Once the victim is emotionally invested, they are easier to scam.  

After the victim pays for the puppy, the scammer creates a website they claim the consumer can use to track the pet’s delivery. The victim is given a bogus tracking number too, which continues to make the scam seem legitimate. But, a day later, the victim typically receives an email saying delivery has been delayed, and that the victim is now on the hook for any number of new fees – delivery fees, cage fees, vaccinations, as well as other charges. The scammers’ delivery website is updated with this information too, which, again, continues to give the impression that the sale is legitimate.

If the victim pays the fees, the scammers often demand additional fees, until the victim either can no longer afford to pay or realizes they’ve been taken. By this time, the loss to the victim could be in the thousands. 

Once the victim stops paying, the scammers sometimes threaten them with “animal abandonment.” Some will go so far as to create an additional website replicating one from law enforcement to frighten the victim and they will continue to email, text and phone the victim to try to get them to pay more money.

Nationwide, the City Attorney’s Office has identified approximately 4,500 complaints about puppy scams and almost 400 in California. According to a report by the BBB, experts believe at least 80% of the sponsored advertising links that appear in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent. These scams are common for cats, horses and birds, too. 

City Attorney Feuer offers the following red flags to avoid being puppy-scammed:

  • The asking price is far below the normal rate for that breed.
  • The seller won’t let you meet the puppy in person or see him on a video call. 
  • The seller insists on shipping the pup and won’t let you pick him up in person. 
  • The seller requires payment by money transfer, such as Western Union, prepaid debit cards or via Zelle, an app that consumers have reported has been unwilling to refund fees for fraudulent transactions with puppy scammers.
  • Pictures of the puppy or the text of the ad can be found on other sites – use Google image search to check for other sites that have the same image of the pet that is being offered.  

To search for adoptable dogs and cats sheltered with LA Animal Services, visit them online. For more information on avoiding puppy scams, visit Pet Scams which also has a list of over 8,000 websites they’ve identified as scam sites. You can also check BBB Business Profiles for complaints and customer reviews before you make the purchase as well as doing other internet searches to see if there are complaints about the seller.

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Consumer News

LA Alcohol Delivery Sees Massive Spike Following “Safer at Home” Order

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Photo by Waldemar Brandt

LOS ANGELES — Following California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Safer at Home” order, Saucey has experienced an unprecedented number of users on their alcohol delivery platform.

The company has seen a 300% increase in area sales compared to a standard delivery day.

“As the concern over the COVID-19 virus has grown at both the state and public levels, I think you’re not so coincidentally seeing a rise in people ordering alcohol,” says Saucey co-founder and CEO Chris Vaughn. “We’re feeling the effects elsewhere too, like San Francisco and Chicago; we’re doing our best to assist everyone who wants to use us and use us safely.”

The Los Angeles-based app recognizes they are among select delivery services fortunate enough to be helping people in a variety of markets as they practice social distancing and protect themselves from the rapidly spreading Coronavirus.

“It’s good to see so many people making lifestyle adjustments that let them be as comfortable as they can be during this time,” Vaughn said.

There may be something to that comfort thing. Since March 15, Saucey has seen ice cream sales spike by 500% and soft drinks by 150%. Lime sales also spiked by 350%, potentially pointing to more people making mixed drinks.

As for the alcohol, vodka tops Saucey’s spirit sales and is up by 250%. Whiskey, however, saw the greatest spike at 300%. IPAs held the highest increase in sales in their beer category at 300%.

Saucey will continue providing safe deliveries to the people of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Orange County and San Jose.

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Business

Costco Says Don’t Even Think of Returning Toilet Paper

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(TMZ) — Costco is unsympathetic to all the folks who stocked up on toilet paper like they were never gonna get another sheet … because the superstore has made it clear — NO REFUNDS!!!

This sign was plastered on the wall of the Costco in Pentagon City outside Washington, D.C. Now that people have settled in, it seems they’re realizing they have waaaaaay too much toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes and Lysol, and apparently some are trying to return it for cash.

You gotta be a little sympathetic … lots of people got laid off after they hoarded these items, so money is a huge issue.

Also on the no-return list — Water and rice.

Continue reading at tmz.com

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Consumer News

Drives Aim to Keep Historic Restaurants Alive During Outbreak

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Owner Dimitri Komarov at the famous Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES (Daily News) — With restaurants limited to takeout service or shut down completely by the coronavirus outbreak, a drive has been launched to keep some of Los Angeles’ legendary eateries from fading away.

Known as 1933 Group, the team operates about a dozen themed bars and restaurants in Los Angeles, including the barrel-shaped bar Idle Hour in North Hollywood, Harlowe in West Hollywood, Highland Park Bowl and the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood.

Many of them have shuttered in recent days amid strict orders implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti, aiming to stem the flow of deadly COVID-19.

“We are struggling to survive,” said Dimitri Komarov, the venues’ co-owner. “The impact is dire. We’re losing our […]

Continue reading at dailynews.com

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