How to avoid puppy scamsLiz Mallia
You may be thinking of getting a puppy, but you aren’t sure where to start. So, like any responsible adult, are doing your research. You may stumble across some interesting prospects, with sites advertising beautiful dogs and puppies, at astonishingly good prices – what a bargain! It almost seems too good to be true . . .
Unfortunately, that’s because it is. The site is probably run by a scammer, looking to con you and other dog lovers. Scammers create websites full of fake adverts for puppies. They will eagerly tell you about how lovely their non-existent dogs are, but once you’ve paid, the scammer will cut communication and vanish, leaving you out of pocket and very upset.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in puppy scams, as more people are looking to get a puppy for companionship. Scammers have taken advantage of this, conning people out of their money, not to mention all the disappointment and heartache caused.
Here at NewDoggy.com, we want to help you avoid puppy scams. We’ve put together a list of common red flags and tricks scammers play, and how to avoid being conned. NewDoggy.com is a well-established business that helps to pair prospective dog owners with the puppy of their choice. Our company only sources puppies from approved breeders. We also work with professional dog trainers and veterinarians to ensure that our puppies are in the best of health and properly socialised. Our many happy customers have left
; you can peruse these for more information.
What are some common red flags?
- Free or very cheap animals: Scammers often advertise puppies are very low prices, or even for free. They may also have a “sob story” attached to explain why they are giving away animals for free, such as the death of a family member, moving to a house where pets are not allowed, or starting a new job.
- “Additional expenses”: once you are committed to buying a puppy, the scammer will suddenly add extra expenses to the bill. These are purportedly to cover “additional expenses such as shipping, special dog crates, insurance and the like.
- Fake airlines/shipping services: Many scammers will go a step further in order to seem legitimate, and will create websites for fake airlines or pet shipping companies.
- Use of photos from other sources : Scammers will take photos from legitimate breeders, social media, or even use stock photographs in order to seem legitimate. If you reverse-search the photos, you can find the real source of the photo.
- Poor spelling and grammar on the website: This may seem a petty issue, but a real breeder or company will do their upmost to be professional, and will take pride in having a good site with well written information. Amateurish writing may point to a con artist.
- Asking for payment to be wired: Many scammers will request payment through a money transfer service (such as Western Union, or Moneygram) or cash apps (such as Zelle). If the seller is a scammer, it is almost impossible to be refunded if you wire the payment.
How to avoid being scammed
- Check references: A good seller should be able to provide testimonials from previous customers. If there are no reviews, you should be concerned. A scammer may try to falsify reviews, but if you read several reviews that all sound the same (for example, the wording is very similar), be cautious.
- Ask for fresh photos and video: Ideally you would visit the breeder/seller to meet the puppies, but if the breeder lives far away, you can ask for regular photo and video updates. Nowadays most people have some kind of smart phone or digital camera, so it should be simple for the seller to send you pictures or videos. If you are suspicious of photos on a site, you can try reverse researching the image through a service such as Google image search: this will help you find where the photo was originally posted.
- Always ask for telephone number of the company/ breeder: A good breeder truly cares about the health and welfare of their dogs. They want you to be able to contact them in case of trouble. A legitimate company will similarly wish to help its customers, and will also provide a contact number should you have any issues. Failure to provide any phone number can be a cause for concern.
- Check Social Media: News travels fast, especially over social media. You can check for reviews or contact previous customers to see what they think of a particular seller.
- Never transfer money or use Western Union: a trustworthy seller will want to use a reliable service such as Paypal or Credit Card payment. This protects both the buyer and the seller, so a reliable seller should want to use these services.
- Research the breed: Researching the breed you are interested in will give you a good idea of how much puppies and dogs usually cost. You can compare the average price to what the seller is asking. If their price is unusually low, you should be suspicious.