Unfortunately, we see an uptick in pet scams during the holidays. Pet scams (or “puppy scams”) can cause a lot of heartache, leaving their victims without a pet and often out of hundreds of dollars. Read below to learn the signs and how you can avoid puppy scams this holiday season and year-round.
Someone Asked You to Pay Through Western Union for a PupPY— Now What?
First of all, we highly discourage buying a pet from an unknown source, especially someone who is in a different state or country. If you can't go to their house, meet them, and see the pet for yourself, you're already taking a risk.
Read this. If any of these typical pet scam details sound familiar, walk away. Particular red flags include a very sad or dramatic story from the pet seller, a “free” pet that just requires paying “transportation costs,” and the request that you send payment via Western Union or MoneyGram.
Remember, just because someone has a picture of a pet, that doesn't mean it's real. Often pet scammers just find a photo online and pass it off as their own. Pet scammers do not actually have any pets in their possession, so anything they say about a puppy being stuck at the airport or being in danger is simply not true.
Same goes for “official” sounding pet company names. Google everything they send you to find out if they are real or not and pay close attention to the email address they use. If it's more sketchy than official, you should stop communicating with them.
Specific Example: We recently heard from someone taken in by a supposed breeder called “Bosco Bulldogs” who told their would-be client they were using PetRelocation to ship the pet. A little research reveals this is not a real breeder, and when they called us they found out that of course, we knew nothing about the “order.” Note: PetRelocation deals with pet owners directly and will never ask that you wire money for our services.
If you will be purchasing a pet online or out of state
Make sure to first check that the seller and shippers are reputable. IPATA (the trade association to which PetRelocation belongs) has a list of known scammers that you can reference here (last updated October 2019) IPATA warns “These scammers are criminals. Their goal is to take your money… They use the names of legitimate pet shippers. They pirate websites and illegally use logos of other companies. If you see an offer that is too good to be true, it probably is. It probably is a scam!”
Here are some names of fraudulent companies and email addresses we have identified:
- Aircounty Express
- Safe Pet Relocators, Tel: +1 (409) 237‐3585
- Micro Teacup Puppies, Tel: 954‐985‐8848
I've been scammed. What can I do?
File a report with your local law enforcement and with your local FBI office. Report as much information as you can such ask:
- Email address of the scammer
- Western Union name that the money was sent to (or that they asked the money be sent to)
- Phone numbers/addresses given by the scammer
- Any other information
This content was updated on December 6, 2019