Don’t fall prey to a puppy scam!

ID-10048026Who doesn’t love puppies? They’re so cute and lovable. Just the word puppy inspires an emotional reaction in a lot of people–and if there’s one thing  scammers are good at, it’s playing on people’s emotions.

Your BBB recently heard from a Corpus Christi woman who got scammed out of $200 while trying to buy a Yorkie puppy for her kids. She found an ad online that appeared to be local offering a Yorkie for sale and responded.

The scammers told her they were moving and needed to get rid of some puppies. If she paid $200 each, the Yorkie pup was supposed to be delivered the next day. She paid the scammers via Moneygram. And no puppy turned up.

She figured out she’d been scammed when someone claiming to be with an insurance company called and emailed, saying they needed a $720 “refundable” payment for pet insurance before they could send the puppy. Luckily, she didn’t pay the crooks any more money, but losing $200 to criminals–along with the disappointment about the puppy she wasn’t going to get–had to sting.

WatchYourBuck has covered the puppy scam in the past. It’s a pretty common scam that comes with variations–one version we wrote about involved an attempt to purchase a kinkajou, rather than a puppy.

Here is some advice to avoid becoming a victim of a pet scam:

  • Do your research. Ask for the breeder’s references. You can also check to see details about complaints against the breeder, advertising issues and other details about the seller.
  • Visit the Breeder First. It is essential to visit the breeder at their home to see the entire litter, the care and conditions given to the puppies prior to purchasing. This will allow you to see if the environment is clean and healthy for the puppies.
  • Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned with getting paid. Any reputable breeder will be far more concerned with the appropriateness of the potential pet home than what and when they are getting paid. Make sure you have clear expectations – ideally in writing – of how and when the pup will be paid for. Be especially wary of any breeder who insists that you wire money or insist you can only pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • Don’t be fooled by a slick website. Dishonest breeders and even outright scams can be represented by professional-looking web sites that lure you in with fraudulent pictures of adorable puppies.
  • Take your time. Beware of breeders who claim to have multiple breeds ready to ship immediately. It’s highly unlikely that your perfect puppy will be available for shipping on the very day you call. Gestation and socialization of a litter takes months–no puppy should be separated from the mom before eight weeks of age.
  • Report a scam. Anyone who has experienced a dog-related scam should report it to their local authorities, as well as your BBB.