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A new dog…and scammers’ old tricks

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cute puppyLots of people feel the urge to cuddle and care for a puppy – especially one that doesn’t have a home and needs all the TLC an animal lover can give. But if you see an online ad for a dog, or any pet, be warned: that pooch’s pic may just be a trick to steal your money.

Scam artists have bilked animal lovers by posting ads with pictures of puppies and other pets. The ads often include a compelling story about why the puppy is available, and details about his or her lovable personality. The ads may request a reasonable payment for the pet, say $300, or they may claim the pet is available to a good home for free – if you pay for shipping.

If you pay, you’ll get additional requests for money for things like vet bills, crating, shipping, or inspection costs. But when it’s all said and spent, Lassie never comes home – because she wasn’t really for sale in the first place.

Here are a few tips to keep you from getting dogged by scammers selling phantom pets:

  • Don’t use a money transfer service. The surest sign of a scam is when someone insists you use a money transfer service – like Western Union or MoneyGram – as the only form of payment for a pet. Money transfers are like sending cash; once you send it, you can’t get it back. Cash reload packs – like GreenDot MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload or Reloadit – come with the same risks. 
  • Do your research. Ask for detailed information about the person selling the pet. What is the person’s full name, phone number and mailing address? What turns up if you search online for the seller’s name or phone number with the word “scam” or “complaint”?
  • Try doing a reverse image search of the photo to see if it appears in older ads. To do this, right click on the photo and select “copy image location,” “copy image address,” or go to “properties” to copy the image’s location on the internet. Paste the link into a search engine and select the option that allows you to search by image. If the same picture shows up in an older listing, it’s probably a scam. Sometimes, the photos are from social media sites or old listings; the scammer simply re-posts them with a new, bogus online classified ad. But keep in mind: even if you don’t find anything wrong it doesn’t mean that everything’s alright.
  • Consider adoption from a local animal shelter. Pets of all types are in shelters across the U.S. waiting for loving homes. Many can be adopted for a small fee.

If a pretending pooch peddler pilfers money from your pockets, file a complaint with the FTC. If you transferred money for to a scammer for a pet that never appeared, let the money transfer company know, too.

Tagged with: online fraud, scam, shopping
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Weird language to watch for in scams: “I look forward to reading from you”, telling you something and ending with “ok”? Or “right?” And always ending with God bless you.

I think the government isn’t regulating this problem because it’s too expensive for them to take the offenders to court; also the offenders usually don’t have enough money to pay restitution. Someone I knew stole a check and my MasterCard number; aliens was $4,300.00. Even tho I knew who had done this, the bank and MasterCard did nothing because prosecuting wasn’t worth their time in terms of going to court etc. I was so angry she got away with it and so was the detective I spoke to. He said it happens all the time.

any one know of royal teacup maltese I think I got scammed?

Have been in contact for puppy with grace pomeranian saying located in Fair Oaks CA. Starting to get frustrated with me as I'm questioning them. ? Scammers!!! I believe yes!

we just anserd an add for a puppy last friday that was free they anserd back send us 100 dollars for transpot we got the hint....

Hi, I been wanting to buy a golden retriever and I find this site called “ spring retriever “ it’s located in Kansas, it is legit ? Some one hear about this place? Any information will be helpful. Thank you.


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