A new dog…and scammers’ old tricks

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

Comments

I can't believe people still fall for these things.

Beware of online fraud.

Scumbags!!!!!

S C U M B A G S ! ! !

Thanks. My son is going to be looking for a dog on line somewhere. Your article has been very helpful.

These Scammers are using company names that do exist...however.,keep in mind these same Companies NEVER call you or ask for money. Puppies? Well they are getting more clever....BEWARE!!!!

To Janecita - I hope you will convince your son to adopt from a local animal shelter. Anytime you see these ads if they're real they come from unscrupulous breeders and still live a short horrible life. in the shelters have all been checked by vets and given all their shots. And you can rescue one and feel great!

Why is the government not regulating MoneyGram to prevent thieves from using their services to steal from people. the thieves use it because they can get away with it. It's time for Law Enforcement to step in close MoneyGram till they start protecting their customers.

Robbed -- Please explain how "the government" would regulate MoneyGram or other money transfer services. Maybe by telling people not to use them? Requiring clerks to interrogate them about where the money is going and then make a judgment about whether to allow it? And no, "the government" doesn't have a list of all scammers. They change their names and other information all the time. "The government" can't regulate stupidity.

I am wondering what to do with some texts that are the first step toward an attempt to scam me. I had some puppies to sell on Craigslist, and some of the texts I have received are about sending me a check for some lame reason or another so the pup can be picked up and sent to somewhere or another. Different stories, same MO. Is there someplace I can report these? Or do I have to actually lose money first?

You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint. The online complaint system will prompt you to answer a few questions and at the end, you will have an opportunity to express in your own words what happened. You can copy and paste the text message there in that notes section. Thanks.

These people use very professional website and everything seems legit till you make your payment! Then all the red flags pop up and you are screwed. Then all you get are texts from the so-called company that won't answer phone calls in 3 diffrent states. And all have strange recordings asking for your name! Even from the "seller".

mach have how many dog

My fiance and U were scammed out of $4000! I had never heard of puppy scams until it was too late!!

Recently my husband and I were victims of a puppy scam...I thought I had done my research until the day the puppy was to be delivered. I received a text from the shipper requesting more money $799.00 for travel insurance. I refused and told him to get it from the breeder. I tried contacting the breeder and NO response. The shipper again texted me and said if I don't sent the money ASAP he would take the puppy to the pound and he would not be responsible for what happens to him. I told just return the puppy to the breeder and he said, you owned the puppy so pay the money and I will ship her...Long story short I told him I would be calling the States Atty, local authories and anyone else. The shipper texted back and said, don't do nothing let me get back to you. I have heard nothing this happened on Sunday, October 4. I am out my money and it is very disappointing because I thought these were deceit people and there website is so, so professional. Never again, if I can't touch, feel the puppy I don't buy it. Hopefully they catch this group.

I just fell for something like this. Now were out avout $600. This is real people. I did some research and this lady has been doing this for months. Her name is alicia walker she is from spokane washington her number is 253-256-2354 i found an ad for a teacup yorkie puppy she said it was free that i had to pay $350 for shipping and then another $200 for the crate and insurance... We really need to stop these people

Just like CBrumley above my family found some teacup yorkie puppies on . We texted the 253-256-5324 number and they sent an email. Here is one of the pictures that was sent with the email
The email address was AliciaWalker I noticed right away that this is a complete scam. Do not fall for this!

Thanks for posting this. We were contacting Alicia Walker about toy poodle puppies. Thanks for the warning.

I just texted the same person, it is definitely a scam..

I fell for this website advertising cute maltese puppies. I wanted one so badly that I paid the initial $250. Then they asked me for a whopping $680 for INSURANCE. I knew then that I was being taken. Now they are threatening me with abandoning a puppy. The website is amazingmaltesepups They should be shut down.

Ive been looking at English Bulldogs.And today I have had 2 different people claim they have puppies for sale. One man claims to be a Morgan Willaims and he could have the dog delivered to me. When I said I would drive 3 hours to pic up, he said he would discuss it with the family. He's moving to Ontario to work at Sams Club. I know I wont here from him. The other claims to have 4 pups his name was James Scott. It advertised pups in my town but when we communicated he now claims his mother died in Utah and they were her pups. they were basically giving them away but $500. would cover cost of delivery of a pup. Please. Ive bought 2 dogs years ago online.Legit people have a whole sight about their dogs and available litters. You receive documentation on the dogs before purchase. Use PayPal for the purchase. and documents for the airlines with flight numbers and time flight comes in. Ive had 3 dogs that have flown to their new homes.Check with airlines as to cost of flying an animal with a certified crate. Good luck to people trying to buy online today.

I just lost 550 for a yorkie cuz I wouldn't pay 970 for insurance to be shipped to me . watch out for johnson from Maryland not worth those cute puppies he doesn't have

Just got off at text a few minutes ago where I soon realized something was wrong. Offering pedigree Shih Tzu puppies for only the cost of the shipping. Fell hook line and sinker for the scam until I got to thinking. I asked for a picture of the puppies with a piece of paper with my name written on it. Made them so mad. Ranting about how he was a Christian "Personlity" and all I needed was to trust him. I replied that as a sister in Christ I just needed a little reassurance. He replied that he had just dropped them off at the shipper 2 days ago and is waiting for my shipping info. Funny, I only spoke with him one day ago. WATCH OUT FOR WILLIAM SANDERS phone number 573-492-2650. I will continue to do whatever I can to get this name and number out so he takes no one else.

Another way to weed out scanners is to tell them you want to come to them to pick up your puppy and will pay then..most likely if it's a scammer, you'll never hear from them again.

Contacted me. Wanted shipping costs, through Amazon gift card for $150.00. Dounded suspicious, i said no...don't trust you. I get a text using the F word.

Wow, wish I had seen all this before now, I sent the 580.00 fir the yorkie, now they are holding the pup for ransome, they want me to sent 995.00 to the Shipping co. In Nevada by Dec. 3rd 2016 or else. OMG, are these human beings or what ????

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.