If you or someone you know are considering buying a puppy you
/they have seen on the internet -- BEWARE! We are altogether too
frequesntly being contacted by people who have lost their "puppy
deposits" to scammers and on-line thieves! The elderly are often targets,
so if you know of an older friend who is lonely and wants an animal companion,
please help him or her to make a safe choice. (Please see:
"I just want the puppies" | Gardiner woman's life
savings wiped out amid online pet scam.)
NOTE: On May 2, 2019, CBS This Morning did an investigative report called
"Fake breeders are scamming people into buying puppies that
don't exist". One interesting fact that we learned from the report is,
according to the Better Business Bureau, "at least 80 percent of websites
advertising pets for sale, the vast majority believed to be puppies, are frauds
and mostly based in West Africa." Watch or read the report
Use temporary web sites
to post adorable puppies. THESE PUPPIES DO NOT EXIST! The pictures you are
falling in love with are likely stock or "pirated" photos of puppies
the scammer has never even seen. Just do an internet search on "free [your
preferred breed] puppy photos" and see how many pictures come up. (I did,
and actually found the photo at the right of my own adopted dog! It was taken
without permission from his online rescue listing and made available for free
download from two separate "stock" photo sites!)
away cell phones. You may have a contact number one day, and the line is
disconnected the next.
trust with you until you put down a deposit or make a payment. They may
ask for payment by check, money order, prepaid gift cards, whatever -- and
after they get your money, they disappear. Or even worse, contact you again
with a story about some unforeseen circumstance that requires another payment
-- THEN, they disappear with your money. Common scam tactics used by internet
sellers to get more money from a consumer include: Crate didnt meet
airline standards, so you need to pay for a different one. Puppy
needs medical attention, so youll have to pay for the services before
transport. Too warm/cold, we need to buy special devices to keep
the pet comfortable during transport. Date doesnt work with
the airline; need you to pay a reservation change fee.
deliver the puppy someplace near you -- then never show up.
WHAT YOU SHOULD
FIRST AND FOREMOST: DO NOT buy puppies sight unseen online!
To repeat that, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER buy puppies sight unseen
online. ALWAYS INSIST that you must meet the puppies' parents
and see where they live. Avoid breeders who offer to meet you at a
convenient public location and will not allow you to see where the
animals are kept.
the breed. Learn all you can about ideal breeding conditions, common
health issues, and average selling price. If you find a puppy being sold at a
significantly discounted and uncommon price, it is likely a scam.
information on how to identify a quality breeder. See
"Additional Resources," below,
for articles on our website, available from the Wisconsin Department of Trade,
Agriculture, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and a very complete Puppy Scam
page from the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
the particular breeder you are considering buying from. Search the
internet for info on the breeder, then search the email address the breeder is
using, as scammers often use the same email address across multiple websites.
Finally, if the breeders website contains testimonials, conduct an
internet search of the text of the testimonial. If the same or similar text
appears on other websites, the breeder is likely a scammer.
are in Wisconsin, ASK for the breeder's/ seller's STATE DOG SELLER LICENSE
the puppy itself. If the seller claims the dog is registered with the AKC,
for instance, contact the AKC and double-check (or check the full registered
names of the parents). Do a search on the photo of the puppy to see if it
appears on other websites.
down a deposit until you have met the seller, the puppy and the parents!
DO NOT PAY by wiring money, sending gift cards, or sending money using apps
such as Venmo, Zelle or CashApp. These transactions cannot be refunded and are
not traceable -- which is why a scammer will insist upon them. . Use a credit
card which will allow you to dispute a purchase. And use the credit card
through a service such as PayPal, which will also allow a purchase dispute AND
keep your credit card number private.
screen shots of puppy sellers' website in case the site disappears. Keep
copies of ALL correspondence with the seller.
screen shots and other information to REPORT THE SCAMMERS using the
DATCP Dog Seller complaint form found here.
make it easy for future scammers -- consider "signing" all of the
photos you post of your own dogs. Check your privacy settings on social
media, and consider using copyright notices or watermarks as shown on the
photos on this page.
check your local shelter and rescue websites -- many of them have adorable
puppies and great adult dogs available for adoption. One of them might be the
perfect dog for you!