The Better Business Burea says puppy scams, where a person gets tricked into buying a puppy online that doesn't exist, are common in West Michigan, Wood TV 8 reports.

The Michigan Attorney General is also warning residents about this kind of scam.

Wood TV 8 shares the story of Jennifer Hiatt of Battle Creek, who reported a puppy scam to the BBB last March.

Hiatt says her family had just lost their dog of 12 years so she may have been blindsided by emotion and missed some red flags when she attempted to purchase a puppy from  purebredpitbullhaven.com, a website that no longer exists.

One red flag was the "company" wanted her to send two money orders, amounting to $640. Hiatt never got her puppy, or her money back.

Troy Baker, manager of communications at the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan, told Wood TV 8 this tactic is commonly used in puppy scams:

“She is a prime example of what happens. These websites are very slick. They make you fall in love with these cute pictures, prey on your emotions and then they rip you off.”

To avoid getting scammed, the BBB offers these tips:

• Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person.

• Never pay a stranger with a money order or through Western Union or Moneygram.

• Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges.

• Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent offer.

• The Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters. They also have tips for finding a reputable breeder.

They also urge anyone who has been scammed to report it to the BBB right away and to share your story at petscams.com, a website dedicated to shutting down these kinds of scams.