ST. PAUL — The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is warning about a recent rise in scams targeting people looking to buy puppies.

People in search of a dog have been scammed out of thousands of dollars by sending money to illegitimate websites, the consumer protection organization warns. The dogs are never sent.

Pamela Fisher, who lives in Arkansas, said her 14-year-old daughter saved money babysitting and giving swimming lessons to buy a puppy from one such scam. She lost more than $1,000 after being told to wire money to a company purporting to be from Minnesota. The puppy never arrived.

“It was heartbreaking for my daughter … she learned a lesson; we all have,” Fisher said.

The scammers will also try to trick customers further. They told the Fishers their dog had been sent to the wrong airport, and more money was needed to get it to them. Others will charge for insurance costs or special crates for dogs that do not arrive.

Other victims have been reported in Minnesota and New Jersey.

The BBB’s warning mentioned the company Best Golden Doodle Family Pubs, which says it is based in Edina and advertises goldendoodle puppies at the website goldendoodlepuppies.us. That is the company the Fishers sent money to. Another woman reported losing $900 to the same website.

A New Jersey man lost about $1,800 after sending money to Frenchie Farm Bulldogs, which said it was based in St. Paul, said Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Bess Ellenson. Again, no dog arrived. That is the largest amount lost that’s been reported to the BBB so far.

Best Golden Doodle Family Pubs and Frenchie Farm Bulldogs could not be immediately reached for comment.

The BBB advises customers to meet breeders or sellers and their animals in person, and to not wire money to sellers. Customers should also be wary of website claims and look out for websites with spelling errors, often a sign that they were created by scammers overseas. Additionally, the BBB recommends obtaining a written contract from the seller and getting references from them.

If a seller is claiming to be American Kennel Club-certified, contact the group at 919-233-9767 to verify a litter or search the club’s site at akc.org.