And They Called It Puppy Love…
The big bright eyes, the wet little nose, the soft fur fringed around a face you want to cuddle and coo. You’ve fallen in love with a picture of the cutest puppy (with a bright red bow), after responding to an ad that says “free to a loving home.”
The person who sent you the picture online promises 24-hour delivery of your pooch to the nearest airport — as soon as you wire money to pay for shipping costs.
But this kind of puppy love can lead to heartbreak. A scam artist is behind that cute picture — and the request to wire money. One request for money leads to another — for transport, shots or papers — but you never get the puppy.
Before you pay for a puppy — or any other pet — online, here are some tips:
- Don’t wire money. The surest sign of a scam is when someone insists you wire them money as the only form of payment for a pet. Wiring money is the same as sending cash — once you send it, you can’t get it back.
- Do your research. Ask for detailed information about the person selling the pet. What is the person’s full name, phone number and mail address? Do complaints or the word “scam” pop up when you research them online?
- Don’t buy a puppy or do business with someone you haven’t met in person. If you try to arrange meetings to see the puppy, and the person makes excuses, it could be a red flag.
- Consider adoption from a local animal shelter. Purebred dogs (and other pets) of all ages abound in shelters across the U.S. waiting for loving homes. Most can be adopted for a small fee.
The “puppy scam” has been run with other pets – parrots, kittens, even iguanas. If you’ve spotted a puppy scam, or any scam related to buying pets online, file a complaint with the FTC, or contact your State Attorney General.