WARNING SIGNS OF PUPPY SCAMS
Because puppies are a popular holiday gift, it’s important to know the warning signs of Puppy Scams. I’m sure you’ve seen Ads on the internet displaying photos of adorable puppies who “need good loving homes”. Many times there’s a sad sob heart-wrenching story that goes along with the Ad. These Ads are specifically designed to pull at your heartstrings and entice animal lovers everywhere to want to adopt them.
Typical Warning Signs of Puppy Scams
This scam usually involves a fake website that purports to be the website of a breeder of purebred kennel club registered dogs. Keep in mind that anyone can create a website that appears to be legitimate and anyone can steal the name and logo of a legitimate breeder.
The fake website or fake Ad will display photos of puppies that they don’t own and puppies that are really not for sale at all. The photos are copies taken from the websites and Ads of legitimate sellers or animal rescue organizations. The Ads talk about the dog’s personality and background. They offer the pet for sale at a low price or may even offer the puppy “free to a good home”.
Once a victim is hooked, the victim is instructed to wire money and given instructions as to where they go to pick up their new puppy. The scammer oftentimes requires additional fees to be paid to cover shipping costs, veterinarian exams, required shots, crating fees and even Insurance.
Once your money is sent to the fraudster, the victim is given flight information to pick up their puppy. Convincingly, the notice to pick up the dog often comes via email instructions that appear to come from a legitimate Airline. The email is, of course, a forgery. Once the victim gets to the airport to pick up their new puppy, there is no puppy waiting for them. There never was a puppy for sale in the first place! Keep in mind, this scam works for all types of pets, not just puppies.
Tips to avoid this happening to you:
- If the price keeps increasing, because of additional fees, recognize this as a Red Flag.
- Never buy a dog without seeing the dog and the facility that is selling the dog.
- Get an independent Vet report on the puppy instead of the one provided by the seller.
- Check out the seller with the American Kennel Club to confirm legitimacy.
- Do a reverse image of the pet’s photo by right clicking on the photo and choose “Copy Image Location”. Then paste it onto Google and select the option to “search by image”. If the photo appears in other Ads, don’t engage with the seller. You can also do this on tineye.com to see if the photo appears on other websites. It’s a Red Flag if it does.
- If you’re told that a courier company is being used to transport the dog, be sure to check out the courier company’s legitimacy and ask if they have an open order to ship your dog.
- Be wary of anyone selling anything who requires you to send them money via a bank wire. This is the preferred way a fraudster likes to receive money. Once you wire money, you can never get that money refunded back to you.