How to spot a Puppy Scam

May 8, 2020 at 7:20 pm

The Denver Dog reports


How much is that puppy in the window? Well, if you are browsing on the internet, that puppy may not even exist. The internet has become a driving force in our everyday life. Many people do all of their shopping online-so it is no wonder people use the internet to find their next dog. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to exercise caution when searching for a puppy online. A 2019 investigation by the BBB unveiled several fake advertisements to purchase puppies through the web. 


Posting a fake advertisement for a puppy online is not a difficult feat. Scammers can easily find images of puppies online and use them to entice consumers. There are ways to spot these scams by looking out for these red flags.


The seller asks to be wired money

Asking for money to be wired is a huge red flag that you are about to fall victim to a scam. Once the money is wired there is no way of getting it back.  


Images of the puppies look like they could be stock photos

Anyone can purchase stock photos online and use them however they wish.  If the photo looks a little too perfect that is a sign that the ad is likely fake. Not all scammers use stock photos and some of the photos they do use look genuine.


The seller doesn’t offer a phone number

If the seller only wants to communicate via email this is definitely a red flag that it is a scam. They are likely fearful that if they talk to you over the phone you may expect to hear the puppy in the background. They also don’t want to offer a number that could be traced back to them if you were to report them for fraud.


The price seems too good to be true

In a puppy selling scam, the sellers will often post an ad for a purebred dog that is less than what you would pay if you were to purchase it from a breeder. This helps entice sales as people think they are getting a great deal and sometimes won’t ask a lot of questions about where the dog is coming from, and so on.


The seller finds excuses for why you haven’t received the puppy

Many of these scam artists will offer explanations for why you haven’t received the puppy. They might say the puppy is stuck at the airport and you need to pay an additional fee to get the puppy transported to another location. They will find other explanations until they completely disappear and you never hear from them again.


The BBB has received nearly 10,000 complaints from consumers that thought they were purchasing a puppy online and never received it. This number is likely much higher as it is estimated only 10% of these victims report the incident. “Scammers love to try to take advantage of people when they are in high emotion situations,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The excitement of buying a new pet can cloud good judgement, and victims can be hurt financially and emotionally when they realize they have lost their money, and hopes for a new pet.”


Reputable websites such as Petfinder,, offer a safe way to find a new pet. It is recommended that you are in a situation where you can physically see the pet before paying for it. When searching for a new addition to the family, it is important not to jump the gun. It may be hard to wait for a new pet, but the wait is worth it if you can verify that you are truly getting what you pay for.