Local couple scammed when trying to buy 3 Boston Terriers online

If a dog or puppy is on your holiday shopping list - be careful.

A local couple got taken for more than 1-thousand dollars for what they thought would be their new four-legged family members.

Three Boston Terriers run the Signorelli household. Tom and Gwenda wouldn't have it any other way.

“We have the best dogs in the world. They're completely crazy,” Tom said.

But getting to this point would take months of frustration and heartache.

After their two dogs died last year, the Signorellis started looking for the next generation of dogs to join the family. They searched for puppies on websites selling Boston Terriers and found a seller on a "Boston Terrier Facebook Group."

“We found a girl that said we have three Boston Terriers available,” Tom said.

That girl sent them pictures of puppies - which she said would be ready for pick up in just a few weeks.

“She gave us a good price on three dogs which was 15-hundred dollars,” Tom said.

They paid for the dogs up front.

“We believed her hook line and sinker. She was a person who portrayed herself as a lover of animals,” Tom said.

But when it came time to pick up the dogs, the seller kept coming up with excuses.

“Eventually she sort of admitted that she didn't have them,” Tom said.

The Signorellis weren't just out the money - they were also out three family members.

“You know, you love dogs and you're looking forward to getting those dogs. There's that little heartbreak that goes along with it too,” Tom said.

They eventually bought three other terriers from a legit seller.

But according to the Better Business Bureau, online scams involving dogs are on the rise and up to 80 percent of ads claiming to sell puppies could be fake.

To avoid getting ripped off - never pay up front - even if you think you're getting a great deal.

Meet the seller - and dog - in person before handing off your hard-earned cash.

“We love our dogs and that's great, that's a happy ending, but I still want my money,” Tom said.

The Signorellis paid for the dogs using a money transfer service called "Square" - which they thought would secure the transaction.

FOX 32 reached out to Square for comment - they haven't provided one, but its terms of service does say the company is a payment facilitator, not a bank, and that users are fully responsible for all activity that occurs under his or her Square account.