Puppy Scams Take Advantage of Your Desire for an Adorable New Puppy at a Really Good Price
Image: Pixabay

Puppy Scams Take Advantage of Your Desire for an Adorable New Puppy at a Really Good Price

Short-lived websites offer popular dog breeds for a fraction of the normal cost, which should be a warning sign of scams

February 22, 2021

With big eyes, wagging tails, and enthusiastic kisses, who doesn't love puppies? If you're looking for a new puppy, it can be very easy to get caught up in the excitement. But while you're looking for the next new member of the family, you should also be watching out for a scam that aims to take advantage of the excitement while emptying your wallet and leaving you without a puppy at the same time.

online puppy sales look like a deal but don't make your tail wag

Scams are always popping up, especially online. Puppy scams are no different and take advantage of your excitement for a new family member. Short-lived websites offer popular breeds for just a fraction of the normal cost that a legitimate breeder would charge. But after scamming you and others, those websites typically disappear, sometimes reappearing elsewhere online under different names. Online marketing of these scams gives thieves a cheap, easy and convenient way to take your money with little effort.

they never deliver

You might find an online website offering a puppy complete with registration papers, health certificates, veterinary records and free delivery for a low price. But the puppy never shows. And if you show up at the address on the website, you'll find it's an office building, something that has nothing to do with dogs, or just nonexistent.

Red Flags for Puppy Scams

  • Payments can only be made via wire transfer: Wire transfers are anonymous and non-refundable, so scammers love them.
  • You can't visit the animal or the breeder: Scammers use false addresses and never give you the option to pick up the pet in person.
  • The seller can't provide any photos of the pet except the one you saw online: Since scammers don't have the puppy, they copy a photo from another site. If you're not sure the business is legitimate, right click the available image and search for it on Google. If it's being used on other sites, it's a scam.
  • The site is new and registered overseas: If you search the web address at a domain lookup site and find out that it was created only recently and registered in a different country, beware.
  • Negative word-of-mouth: Consumers who have been scammed often post warnings about their experiences that you will see if you do an online search for the business's email address, name, phone number, and similar information.

avoiding these scams

The best way to avoid the online puppy scam is to get a puppy from a local breeder. This way you can visit the puppy and see if it would be a good fit for your family. Even better, adopt a puppy from a local shelter or from a foster family. Puppies (and dogs, kittens and cats) from shelters might seem like a bit much to handle but really just need someone to love, someone to love them, and a chance to get used to a new environment.

If you must look for your next puppy online, consider performing a reverse image search of the photos you find there. It could alert you to the possibility of a scam if the same photo appears in multiple places online.