Puppy scams have been increasing exponentially over the past few years in Australia. The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) reported an increase of around 1000% in 2 years. In 2019, puppy-related scams amounted to $375,000, however, that grew to nearly $4.2m in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic saw the demand for puppies growing tremendously, which paved the way for scammers to attract hopeful puppy seekers with pictures of adorable puppies and ‘discounted’ prices. These schemes not only burned a hole in people’s wallets but may also leave them emotionally scarred and suspicious.
Attaching yourself to a puppy via images only to learn it never existed is painful. The first step to ensuring you are protecting yourself is engaging with a registered Dogs Australia breeder, you can connect with them here on Dogz Online. Let’s go over 3 signs that you may be dealing with a scammer and how to avoid them.
1. No Live Interaction with the Puppy
When dealing with puppy scammers, it's important to remember that their main goal is to deceive and cheat you out of your money. To achieve this, scammers often use photos of cute puppies to lure you in. They may even offer the puppies at discounted prices, making the deal seem too good to pass up. However, once you show interest and make contact, the scammer will avoid any live interaction with you being able to view the puppy via video chat or even just regular videos, citing reasons such as their busy schedule, technological failures such as phone or internet not working or that they are not in the immediate vicinity of the puppy. They may also say they are not comfortable with visitors to their home due to health or other reasons.
This lack of live interaction is a major red flag and should raise suspicions. It's important to remember that a legitimate breeder would be happy to arrange a video call or meeting in person for you to interact with the puppy and get to know them. By avoiding any live interaction, the scammer can hide that the puppy may not even exist or may not be as advertised.
In most cases, scammers use stolen photos of puppies from legitimate breeders, creating a false persona and website to deceive you (yes, they can go to these lengths!). In these cases, even if you are shown pictures or videos of the puppy, you may not be dealing with the person you think they are. This is why it's important to do thorough research and verify the breeder’s identity and credentials before making any payments.
All Dogs Australia breeders have their unique registration number as well as a “prefix”, the name that they have given to their kennel. This number is easily verified through the Dogs Australia website where you will find their “Registered Breeder Check” area on their homepage. Just add the breeder’s prefix and registration number and wait for a green tick, if you get a red cross, it will tell you that this is not a registered breeder. You can also email or phone Dogs Australia for this verification if that is easier for you.
If something doesn't feel right, it's always best to walk away and look for a reputable breeder who is transparent and willing to provide live interaction and answer any questions.
2. Surprise Costs After Agreeing on the Price
This scam involves a seller offering a puppy at a seemingly reasonable price, only to add on additional costs after you have already agreed to purchase the puppy. This can include fees for vaccinations, shipping, or other unexpected expenses.
Scammers may use various tactics to deceive you into agreeing to these additional costs, such as claiming that they are necessary for the puppy's health and well-being, or that they are required by law. They may also threaten to cancel the sale if you don't agree to pay the additional costs.
To avoid falling victim to this scam, it's essential to ask for a full breakdown of all costs upfront before agreeing to purchase the puppy, and if possible, with invoices or a contract. You should also research the typical costs associated with owning a puppy and ensure you are not charged excessively. Always read the fine print, ask questions about any terms and conditions and verify any third-party providers such as transport companies before agreeing to the sale or even sending a deposit.
You can benefit from Dogz Pay, Dogz Online’s latest feature to send puppy payments and deposits from your debit or credit card (goodbye, cash scams!).
3. Unchanged Puppy Pictures and Descriptions
This involves a seller who uses the same pictures and description of a puppy over an extended period, even after the puppy has grown or been sold to another buyer.
A registered breeder will take photos of their litter in the same surroundings of their home, usually a whelping/birth box which would be in the same area of the house. You should also be able to see the puppy at different stages of growth and not just in one static age, scammers will repeat the same stolen photos which will have a huge variance in background and style In some cases, scammers will advertise purebred puppies but in reality, you may be being sold a crossbred one.
You can steer clear of this scam by asking the seller for recent pictures and videos of the puppy, as well as any updates on its growth and development. It would be best if you also asked for verification that the puppy is still available and has not been sold to another buyer.
It's important to remember that reputable breeders will be happy to provide updated information and pictures of the puppy, and will not hesitate to answer any questions or concerns. If a seller is unwilling or hesitant to provide this information, it's a red flag and you should proceed cautiously. However, remember that breeders have to tend to simultaneous queries and often have other full-time work, meaning they may not be able to answer right away. Reaching out to a variety of registered breeders is also important so that you can build a trusted relationship with them that will last the lifetime of your dog.
By taking these precautions, you can avoid falling victim to the scam and ensure that you are getting a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder. To further protect yourself from these scams, you can connect with Dogz Online breeders and use Dogz Pay for safe puppy payments.