Pets, particularly puppies are a popular holiday gift. People buy dogs or other pets online and although they think they are taking proper precautions, they often end up getting nothing in return for the money that they wire to the scammer who may have a website or other way of marketing their non-existent pets with photographs and false information. Often the scammers hook their victims for more and more money, such as when even after the victims has paid for the non-existent dog the victim is asked for further fees for a special crate to transport the dog along with additional transportation company fees.

A study of the Better Business Bureau entitled “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers” describes this scam in detail and indicates that this scam largely originates in the the African country, Cameroon.

Click to access puppy-scams-bbb-study-20170901.pdf


Anyone can have a website that appears to be legitimate and anyone can even steal the name of a legitimate animal breeder. Always check into the reputation of the breeder with the Better Business Bureau, your state’s attorney general and even Google the name with the word “scam” to see if a legitimate breeder’s name that is being used has been stolen for scams previously. Be wary of anyone who asks you to wire money because that is a telltale sign that a scam is going on because once the money is wired, it is impossible to get it back. If you are told that a courier company is being used to transport the animal, check out the company to make sure it is legitimate and actually shipping the dog. There also are a number of ways such as using the website to search the photos sent to you of the dog to see if they appear elsewhere other than the website attempting to sell you a puppy. If so, this is a good indication that you are being scammed. Also, always get a veterinarian report on any animal before you consider buying it. Finally, you are always going to be better off buying a pet that you can see in person prior to buying the pet.

Here is a link to a television interview I did about holiday pet scams:

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