Scams involving sales of non-existent puppies had already increased dramatically in the last few years, but really took off  during the Coronavirus pandemic when many people were looking for the emotional support of a loving dog.   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 some 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 additional payments for a special crate to transport the dog along with additional transportation company fees.

Recently Desmond Fodje Bobga, of Cameroon was convicted of operating a puppy scam and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.  Typical of puppy scammers, Bobga lured his victims in through a website he created in which he posted photos of dogs he found online.


It is simple for a scammer to construct a website that appears to be legitimate and scammers can readily 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 of the breeder 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.  If Bobga’s victims had taken this step, they could have avoided 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.

Some phony breeders claim they are certified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) however, the AKC doesn’t certify breeders.  Legitimate breeders will however, register their litters with the AKC and you can find out by calling the AKC’s customer service line 919-233-9767 if a particular litter has been registered.

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