Online puppy scams have become a rampant problem in recent years, preying on unsuspecting individuals who are searching for a furry addition to their family. With the convenience of the internet, scammers have found new ways to exploit people’s emotions and steal their money. From fake advertisements to bogus websites, these scams have cost people thousands of dollars and left them heartbroken. The rise of online puppy scams has shed light on the importance of being vigilant and doing proper research before making any purchases online.
How Puppy Scams Work
Picture this: You’re scrolling through social media, and you see an ad for the cutest puppy you’ve ever laid eyes on. You feel an instant connection.
Before you know it, you’re sending a message to the seller to find out more. The seller responds quickly, telling you that the puppy is still available and that they’re located in another state. They seem friendly and knowledgeable, and they send you a bunch of adorable photos and videos of the puppy.
You’re sold, and you decide to buy the puppy. The seller asks you to send a deposit to hold the puppy and then requests the full payment, claiming it’s needed for shipping and other expenses.
You happily send the money, eagerly anticipating the arrival of your new furry friend. But as the days go by, you don’t hear anything from the seller. You try to contact them, but they don’t respond.
Finally, you hear from the seller. They tell you that there has been a delay due to unforeseen circumstances. They ask for more money to cover additional expenses, promising that your puppy will be on their way soon.
Desperate to get your puppy, you send the additional money, only to be met with more delays and requests for additional payments. Eventually, you realize that you’ve been scammed – the puppy never existed, and you’re out thousands of dollars.
How to Spot and Avoid Puppy Scams
Puppy scams can be difficult to spot, but there are some red flags to watch out for when browsing online ads or communicating with sellers. Here are some tips for spotting and avoiding puppy scams:
Do Your Research
Before making any purchases, it’s important to research the seller or breeder thoroughly. Look for reviews or testimonials from other buyers, and check out the seller’s website and social media accounts to see if they seem legitimate.
Additionally, puppy scammers will often use stock photos or photos of puppies that aren’t actually for sale. They may even steal photos from legitimate breeder websites and use them to create fake ads. To check if the photos are being used elsewhere, we recommend that you perform a reverse image search.
Legitimate breeders will be happy to answer any questions you have about the breed, the puppy’s health and temperament and the breeder’s experience and qualifications. Be wary of breeders who refuse to answer questions or who seem evasive or defensive.
Additionally, ask for proof of health records and vaccinations. Legitimate breeders will be happy to provide you with both the puppy’s and parent’s health records and vaccinations. If a seller cannot provide proof of these important documents, it may be a sign of a scam.
Meet the Breeder and Puppy in Person
If possible, arrange to meet the breeder and the puppy in person before making a purchase. This will allow you to see the living conditions and environment in which the puppy was raised, as well as to get a sense of the breeder’s knowledge and expertise. If you can’t meet the breeder or puppy in person, ask them to do a video call so you can meet them and the puppy.
Watch Out for High-Pressure Sales Tactics and Emotional Appeals
Scammers may use high-pressure sales tactics and emotional appeals to try to convince you to make a purchase quickly, before you have a chance to do your research or think things through. Be wary of sellers who push you to make a quick decision or who use scare tactics to make you feel like you’ll miss out if you don’t act fast.
Beware of Too Good To Be True Prices
If the price for a particular breed or puppy seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often advertise puppies for sale at prices that are significantly lower than market value. This is intended to attract buyers who are looking for a bargain, but in reality, the scammers have no intention of actually selling a puppy.
Avoid Unsecured Payment Methods
Scammers will often ask for payment via peer to peer payment apps, money order or other unsecured methods that are difficult to trace or recover. Avoid sending money via these methods, and instead use a secure payment method like PayPal or a credit card that offers fraud protection.
What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed
If you believe you’ve been the victim of a puppy scam, there are several steps you can take to report the scam to the appropriate authorities and try to recover your losses. Here are some tips:
Stop All Communication
If you suspect that you’ve been scammed, the first thing to do is to stop all communication with the seller or breeder. This will prevent them from scamming you further.
Collect any evidence you have of the scam—including emails, text messages, and receipts or payment records. This will be useful when reporting the scam to authorities or attempting to recover your losses.
Report the Scam
You should report the scam to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and your local law enforcement agency. You can also report the scam to websites where the scammer posted the ad, such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
Try to Recover Your Losses
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recover losses from a puppy scam, especially if you paid using a P2P payment app or money order. However, if you paid using a debit or credit card, you can try to recover your losses by contacting your bank or credit card company to dispute the charges, or by filing a complaint with PayPal, if you used that payment method.
Being scammed can be a traumatic and emotional experience. It’s important to seek support from friends and family. If needed, seek help from a professional counselor or therapist.
Puppy scams are a devastating and unfortunately common problem in the age of the internet. Scammers use a variety of tactics to steal money from unsuspecting buyers, leaving them emotionally and financially devastated. However, by learning how to spot and avoid puppy scams, you can protect yourself and ensure that you bring home a happy, healthy puppy from a legitimate breeder.