During the holiday season, you may think about welcoming a new puppy as a member of the family. As exciting as it may be to look for a puppy online, there are important things to be aware of before you plan to bring your four-legged friend home. In this article, we’ll help you understand a common scam when adopting a new furry friend and how you can protect yourself.
What is a puppy scam?
A puppy scam is when a scammer poses as a breeder, claiming to sell puppies that do not exist through popular resale websites or social media posts. These scammers may pretend to be an already existing, reputable breeder or rescue to make you think the sale is real. Once you send this scammer money, you’ll never see your new puppy, and you likely will not get your money back.
How can I spot a puppy scam?
1. Fake or Stolen Photos:
“Usually, we see scammers send a video or picture of the dogs to make the person think it’s real,” says Chet Rosenfeld, FAIRWINDS Fraud Manager.
However, these photos are not really of your puppy and are likely stolen from other breeders or are stock images found online.
It’s always best to see the dog in person, but if you are not able to visit the breeder, ask for a video call to see your new puppy rather than relying on pictures or videos.
2. Suspicious Payment Requests:
If the person selling you the puppy asks for specific payment methods such as a wire transfer, gift card, or through a mobile payment app, recognize this as a red flag and steer clear. You will not be able to get your money back once it is sent.
“Mobile payment apps are huge for puppy scams,” adds Chet. “You’ll also never have someone ask you to send money for the dog upfront.”
Avoid paying for the puppy in full before you have seen the dog in person. Scammers will often make excuses to avoid in-person meetings. Also, if you feel rushed to provide a deposit or payment in full, this could be a warning sign that a scammer is trying to steal your money and the puppy is not real.
3. Research the seller
Search for positive reviews and recommendations from previous buyers. If you think a scammer is posing as a trusted company on resale websites or social media, search for a website that has a URL starting with "https" and that there is a padlock symbol in the address bar.
A responsible breeder should also provide health records, vaccination information, and registration papers. Scammers may have excuses for not providing these documents.
What should I do if I’ve fallen for a puppy scam?
Chet offers this advice, “First and foremost, go to law enforcement and file a police report. Then report the advertisement or sale wherever you bought the puppy from.”
You can also report mobile payment app scams to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
When looking for your new furry friend, it’s important to be cautious and stay informed. You can also research and visit reputable rescues and shelters to bring a four-legged friend into your family without the risk of encountering a scammer. By familiarizing yourself with these red flags, you can ensure that the journey to finding your new puppy will be an exciting one.