“Purebred Puppy – FREE To Good Home.”
It’s easy to see why ads like this pull on the heartstrings of dog lovers who jump at the chance to adopt an adorable, soon-to-be-homeless puppy — especially when the puppy is a sought-after, expensive breed.
Dr. Audri G. Lanford, Co-Director of ScamBusters.org, cautions would-be puppy parents that puppy scams are growing at an astounding rate. ScamBusters.org is a public service website that has been helping people protect themselves from Internet scams since 1994.
It’s almost impossible for a consumer to recover money from a wire service if they’ve been scammed. It’s far better to use a credit card.
“Dog lovers have become frequent victims of a very old-fashioned scam: selling something that doesn’t exist,” says Dr. Lanford. In the case of puppy scams, con artists advertise puppies in a classified ad or online.
Some scammers claim to be seeking a home for a puppy they can no longer keep, and then ask you to wire them hundreds of dollars to ship the new, non-existent puppy to you. Other scammers, posing as breeders, have puppies listed for sale — often asking ridiculously low prices for purebred puppies that may otherwise cost $1,000 or more.
ScamBusters.org urges consumers to use due diligence when purchasing or adopting a puppy, especially online or via classified ads.
Here are two questions to ask:
1. Is the advertiser insisting that you pay via Western Union or another wire service?
“That’s a tell-tale sign of a scam,” says Dr. Lanford. “It’s almost impossible for a consumer to recover money from a wire service if they’ve been scammed. It’s far better to use a credit card.”
2. Does the alleged breeder seem to care more about payment than about the welfare of the puppies?
“That’s a big red flag. Reputable breeders will be far more concerned with the suitability of your home than the contents of your bank account,” says Dr. Lanford.