Puppy Scams - How to spot them

by PetCloud / Breed Search / 11 Nov 2013

pug, puppy, petcloud, dog

Don't let a cute picture and feelings for some company rule your head if an ad pops up. Be smart - as the puppy in the picture may not even be in the fake breeders care - as many Australians have found out.

This year Australians have so far been conned out of $300,000 due to online scams. 

How do I avoid being scammed when buying a puppy?

If you are looking for a new pet, including a pet to rescue, get educated on pet scams BEFORE you buy.  It’s not only about cats and dogs. It can be any pet of relatively high value – macaws, rare parrots, pure bred cats, pure bred dogs, even high value fish have been included in scams.  Some of the pet scams have been from Nigeria or Cameroon and usually 

The thing is, the pet has never existed and never did! Pet Scammers cheat people out of a lot of money every year. It also causes heartbreak and anger, and can involve legitimate businesses across Australia.  

Do your research before getting a pet, and check the RSPCA's puppy buying guide.


How puppy scams work:

1. The Fake Breeder sets up a fake website or facebook page or group or places a fake ad on Gumtree, along with a fake email address. They also may have lots of fake reviews.

2. (You) the Puppy Buyer makes an inquiry.  

3. The Fake Breeder replies to your email with an offer to sell and transport a purebred pet for a lot less money than usual.  They may say they are only giving the pet away because their child passed away, or that they moved for a new job and cannot provide enough attention for the animal due to work hours, or their new home won’t allow pets.

4. The Fake Breeder says they live in a Remote location.  The "Breeder" pretends to be located interstate, even perhaps in the Northern Territory.  They mention this location because its so remote they know people won't be able to visit to inspect the puppy.

5. The Fake Breeder may say they want to avoid paying tax, so they just prefer you to pay by direct deposit to their bank account.  The bank account may be located offshore.

6. The Fake Breeder will then try to get extra money out of you by saying

  • They need an upfront deposit to know whether you are serious buyer and to be able to hold the puppy for you as they have other interested buyers.
  • The airline is requiring a temperature controlled crate,
  • The airline is requiring shipping insurance, additional paperwork or shots, etc.
  • They will try to blackmail you saying that if you do not send them additional money they will report you for animal abandonment to the authorities.

7. The Fake Breeder may then set up additional email accounts, websites, under another name to also pretend they are an airline or shipping company they refer you to.  


How to avoid being scammed

1. Do a Google Image Search https://images.google.com/ using the Puppy's photo.

2. Always request a Veterinarian? Report on the Puppy from the Breeder before you consider buying it. A puppy should have it's first vaccination at 6-8 weeks and must be microchipped. This should be documented on the Vet Report.

3. Ensure the website only offers a secure payment service such as Paypal or Credit Card.  Other payment methods are not recoverable.

4. Investigate the transport company and inquire as to whether they are legitimate.  Ones such as Dogtainers or Jet Pets have a good reputation and are well known.

5. Ask the Breeder for an ABN. For the breeder to register for an ABN is free. If they say 'breeding is only a hobby', ask them to complete a Statement by a Supplier otherwise, the Australian Tax Office requires (You) the Puppy buyer to withold 47%.

6. Ask the Breeder for a Supply Number (if they are based in Qld only).

7. You are best off buying a Puppy in person when you can inspect the puppy and meet the parents and see the location where the puppies were born.

8. Buy from a Registered Dog Breeder

9. Request for a Certificate of Registration and Pedigree.


If you feel you have been scammed, report it to the Police, and email IPATA: petscams@ipata.org