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Buyer Beware: Puppy Scams Thrive Online

Monday, March 29, 2010 - 3:30pm

As more and more Americans turn to the Web to find the pet of their dreams, scams have skyrocketed as criminals seek to take advantage of unsuspecting pet parents. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, hundreds of complaints are filed each year by victims who were conned when attempting to buy a dog online.

One potential pet parent, Diane, was hoping to add a Yorkshire Terrier puppy to her family when she spotted a classified ad in her local paper. “It was over my morning coffee that I saw the perfect ad for a Yorkie named Nancy,” says Diane, who lives near Cleveland, OH. She sent an email to the address listed, and immediately received a response—Diane could have the puppy if she promised her a loving home and sent $500 to cover the shipping fees.

“I corresponded for an entire week with this man who claimed to be a missionary,” Diane explains. Diane sent the requested payment via Western Union, but once she sent the code for the money transfer, she never heard from the “pastor” again.

Like many trusting animal lovers, Diane fell victim to one of many “free to good home” scams currently circulating the Internet and classified sections of newspapers. So how do you avoid persuasive cons and still get the dog of your dreams? The ASPCA recommends never buying a dog you haven’t met in person and always check references. Also, keep in mind that adoption is still the best option, even if you have your heart set on a purebred dog. There are thousands of dogs waiting for good homes at local animal shelters, including purebreds! Please help others avoid being cheated by emailing your puppy scam story to dogstory@aspca.org.  

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