Online puppy scams have cost people thousands — here’s how to spot them

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Everyone loves a puppy! But if you’re in the market for a new family member for the holidays, here’s what you need to know about some unsavory online sellers.

RELATED: Rent-a-puppy ripoff flourishing at pet stores

Pet scam warning: Know what to watch out for

If you see offers of puppies for sale, or even free puppies being offered online, consider this your warning to proceed with extreme caution.

Money expert Clark Howard recently spoke with one woman who had a cautionary tale to share with her fellow pet lovers.

The woman, who had previously bought her dog Lucy from an Oklahoma-based breeder on PuppyFind.com, naturally wanted to return to that site when she wanted another pet.

Only this time, the woman connected with a supposed breeder in Texas who had created a bogus profile on this otherwise legitimate site. She signed a contract to buy a puppy and sent the seller a $600 MoneyGram to pay for the animal.

On the day of shipment, the seller told her that the airline needed more money to insure the dog before shipping it. So the seller supposedly gave to dog to a man who claimed to specialize in pet shipping.

When the woman heard from the man, she was told there was a delay and a glitch in the flight.

Next, she got an email from the original seller asking for more money.

All told, the woman sent $1,570 for a dog she now knows probably wasn’t even up for sale. The woman later contacted PuppyFind and they located the seller’s bogus account and removed it from the site.

“I get these calls again and again from people who have been scammed by people who either say they’ve found the person’s lost puppy or they’ve got a great puppy for them to buy,” Clark says.

“Do not believe anybody or pay any money unless you see the puppy, especially if it’s your own missing dog.”


Beware of these related ‘puppies for sale’ ripoffs

Paying money for a puppy you never get to see isn’t the only danger in the world of pet scams. Here are a couple other trouble spots to be on the lookout for:

Holiday warning: Don’t pay to ship your pets through these bogus sites

Some unsavory players create websites with names remarkably similar to legitimate airlines to trick you into thinking they are the pet shipping arm of an official carrier.

For example, Delta Air Lines recently filed suit against websites like DeltaPetTransit and DeltaPetAirways. Each used the carrier’s logo and airplane imagery to defraud unsuspecting victims out of money.

Get the full story here.

Watch out for rent-a-puppy ripoffs at pet stores

Ever heard of a puppy lease? Turns out it’s a thing and it’s ripping people off left and right at some pet stores.

When you sign on the dotted line, you may think you’re just doing standard financing on a pet purchase. But you could actually be unknowingly signing a lease agreement to pay hundreds of dollars a month for a lease term of up to 36 months.

Moreover, you’re responsible for an additional one-time residual charge of several hundred bucks if you want to purchase the pet after your lease term ends.

Worse yet, the animal can be repossessed by the leasing company if you miss a payment!

Meanwhile, there’s a much cheaper alternative that can save you hundreds of dollars. Read all about it here.

More pet stories you might enjoy on Clark.com

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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