We’ve gotten so used to shopping for almost anything online. For those in the market for a new pet, there are plenty of options. If you want a specific breed of dog, there are breeder listings, breeders with their own websites, and ads on sites like craigslist.org. Most of these websites are legitimate, but some are not—and that’s what the “Puppy Scam” is all about.
The Puppy Scam begins when someone posing as a breeder creates a fake website or runs an ad for the most adorable puppy you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, that puppy may not even exist. Here’s an example of an ad that was run a full year after the puppy, whose name was Hershey, died. Also, the photos and text on a fake website will likely be stolen from one or more legitimate websites. This will be a valuable clue to checking the legitimacy of the website (see the tips below).
A post on Dog Breeder Info Center gave an excellent description of what to look for when buying a puppy and how to avoid becoming a scammer’s victim. Earlier this year, the Better Business Bureau posted a warning to consumers about puppy scams.
Tips to avoid the scam
- If you find a picture of a puppy that you fall in love with, ask to see pictures from multiple angles. If the scammer is stealing photos from another website, he won’t have those.
- Check the search engines to see whether phrases used on the website show up elsewhere on the Internet. Do this by copying a phrase, then open your browser and search for that exact phrase by placing the words inside quotation marks. If you find other websites with the same phrases used, beware.
- Always use a credit card when making payment so you’ll have recourse. When you use Western Union, Green Dot MoneyPak, or other cash only forms of payment, once the money is gone, it’s gone and you have absolutely no recourse.
- Craigslist advises users to always deal locally. This would allow you to see the dog before making payment.