July 21st, 2011 – When you have kids, your thoughts will eventually turn to getting them a dog of some type. Most families spend a significant amount of time researching dogs and searching classifieds for the perfect pet. Unfortunately for parents, a new dog isn’t the only thing you can pick up from the local buy and sell.
International scam artists are targeting parents who are seeking puppies online. Classified sites like the Facebook Marketplace, eBay Classifieds, and Kijiji.com are rife with scammers who want to take your money and provide you with nothing in return.
It can work in one of a few ways: You place a want ad looking for a new puppy, specifying the type of puppy you are looking and asking people to contact you if they have a puppy for sale. When you receive replies, you will notice that you get mysterious comments like, “Are you still looking for a puppy?” and a contact email. When you contact them, they send you photos of their puppies, complete with a questionnaire that you must fill out to get the puppy. And even more wonderful for you? The puppy is ‘free’, except for a $300 shipping fee.
Recently, I replied to a local ad on the Facebook Marketplace for a puppy. It was an English Bulldog, and I inquired as to how much he was. A week later, I received a friend request from a person named Shelly Brite. She stated she had puppies and would I please contact her, that I had requested information on one of her ads. Having no idea which puppy it was, I replied. She then tried to tell me she had Yorkshire Terrier puppies for free, except for that nasty little shipping fee.
Unfortunately, if you send these people the money via wire transfer or bank transfer, the only thing you will get in return is…., well nothing. You won’t receive a puppy, because they don’t exist.You’ve just been scammed.
There are a few things scream Red Flag when looking for a puppy via online classifieds sites:
- Does the email sent to you call you ‘Dear’ or use elaborate language that seems overly frilly and not at all normal? If so, it’s most likely a scam.
- Do they offer the puppy to you for free?
- Are they clearly not local, instead stating that they need to ship the puppy across the country?
- Do they ask for a wire transfer payment?
There are many puppies available through the local classifieds from reputable breeders or the animal shelters. Be aware of who you are buying from, and know that a purebred dog does not come cheap.
When in doubt, do a search for your local Consumer Watchdog service. As for finding a free puppy online, if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is.