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How to Recognize Scammers?

Being aware that these scammers exist is a good first step to avoid falling prey to them. When you know that they are out there, you will be careful not to get scammed. However, there are some specific things you should know so you can be able to recognize a scammer.

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Keep in mind the below:
  • Watch out for the reasons they name for parting with their puppy. If they mention family hardship, death of the owner, relocation, bad climate or similar excuses, it is probably a scam.
  • If they use a free Gmail, Yahoo or another similar email, you should be careful, especially if they are using it to present themselves as a reputable pet shipping company.
  • Scammers usually refer to puppies as their babies and insist that they are looking for a loving and caring owner for them. They also often send a list of questions and ask you to answer them.
  • They mention a specific “courier” that will deliver the puppy to you, but they never say the name of that courier.
  • If they offer the puppy in one location which is close to you, and then make up some reason why the puppy is in some other location where you can’t see him or pick him up, it is definitely a scam.
  • Look out for scammers if they ask for a payment via Western Union, MoneyGram or some other similar service. They might even ask you to say that you are sending money to a family member and not to buy something.
  • The most important thing to remember is that you can’t ship a puppy internationally for 250-300 $, which is what most scammers ask for shipment. Just remember that it is more expensive to send a puppy to another international location than for a person to fly, especially since there are other expenses included, like kennels, veterinarian services, etc.
  • Also, if they tell you that they will ship the puppy in less than a day after they receive the payment, they are lying because it takes a lot more time to obtain proper documentation to ship a puppy internationally.
  • The English used in emails or text messages is usually pretty bad since scammers are from another country. Poor spelling and grammar should signal that something is fishy.
  • They want to make the transaction happen as fast as possible and they will usually use some sad story as an excuse.
  • They never reveal their name, address, phone number, or show you any photos of themselves, their business or their home. Usually, they try to get you to feel sympathetic to them by telling you how they are a nice married couple, how one of them lost a job recently or is handicapped, for example.
  • Unfortunately, puppy sale scams remain popular among fraudsters. To avoid becoming a victim to a pet adoption scam, there are several steps a consumer should take:
    • Skip the pure breed puppy requirement and adopt from a local shelter. There are an abundance of reputable non-profit animal shelters out there to choose from. By choosing to adopt your new family member instead, you will not only protect yourself from fraud, you will also benefit a worthy cause.
    • Always meet your future pet in person before paying. Fraudsters will come up with a million reasons why you can’t see the pet in person and will offer you pictures instead. Insist on seeing the pet in person. If the seller will not allow you to see the animal in person, it's almost certainly a scam.
    • Never wire money for any purchase. If the seller asks for payment via wire transfer, that’s a big red flag of fraud. Also beware of requests to pay by reloadable prepaid card, iTunes gift card, or another unusual payment method.
    • Do your research. Websites and postings that fraudsters use can appear to be realistic because they steal photos and language from reputable breeders. Try copying some text from their page and pasting it into a search engine in quotes and see if another breeder uses that same language. If another website uses the same or similar language, you may be dealing with a scammer.
    • Check references. Do your own due diligence about the background of the seller. A good place to start is the Kennel Club and Veterinary they use.
    • Don’t trust “free pet” offers. Fraudsters will sometimes use the offer of a “free pet to a good home,” as a way to ensnare an adopter into paying for made up vet bills or fake shipping costs.
    • Make sure their pet shipper is legitimate. If you do take the risk of having your pet shipped, ask for the name and contact information of the shipping company they intend to use. After you have the name, use a search engine to find that shipping company and give them a call from the number on their website to make sure they know the breeder.
  • While the vast majority of pet breeders are legitimate, it can sometimes be difficult to spot a fraud. If you suspect that you have become a victim, report it immediately. You can file a complaint at Fraud.org via our secure online complaint form. We’ll share your complaint with our network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who can and do put fraudsters behind bars