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Atlantic Canada BBB warns of puppy shipping scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public about puppy selling scams that have surfaced in the last few months.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public about puppy selling scams that have surfaced in the last few months. - 123RF Stock Photo

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public about puppy selling scams that have surfaced in the last few months.

The idea is that an online posting indicates that someone is re-homing a puppy on behalf of their ill family member who can’t care for it anymore.

The puppy is free of charge, but the interested party must pay for shipping through a specific shipper at the request of the seller.

The BBB has received numerous reports via Scam Tracker of an online scam just like this, where consumers have reported personal losses between $400-500 each.

The same seller was offering different puppies, such as Rottweilers and golden doodles, on at least 15 separate online postings.

Once the buyers sent the payment to the shipping company for the puppy, the seller became unreachable and the puppy never came, because it never existed in the first place.

In most transactions, a buyer should be able to choose the shipping company they want to use.

However, a common red flag in these scams is that the seller dictates what shipping company is to be used.

Another warning sign is the method of payment.

The requested shipper claims their bank accounts are currently under an audit, and that you must use Western Union to transfer the money.

The BBB reminds consumers that audits do not affect a bank accounts ability to accept deposits.

Buyers were also instructed to not reveal the reason for the payment. No person or business conducting legitimate transactions will ask someone to engage in deception.

According to an article published Jan. 9 on Buzzfeed, around the world the BBB has received more than 10,000 complaints of similar scams in the past three years. 


BBB’s tips for avoiding pet scams:

  • The buyer should inspect the pet themselves by arranging to meet with the prospective seller in person. Most legitimate sellers will welcome the visit. There is no good way to be sure the buyer is not dealing with a fraud if they have no direct in person contact with the seller.
  • If they can’t meet the seller in-person, there are still precautions they can take, including conducting a reverse-image search of the picture of the puppy on Google to see if the photo has been used anywhere else. If it has been, the seller is probably a fraud.
  • Copy and paste text from the online classified posting into a search engine to see if the same language has been used in other postings.
  • The buyer should exercise extreme caution if they aren’t able to select a shipping company of their choosing, or if they are asked to send money to a seller via wire transfer.
  • If any member of the public has fallen victim to a scam like this, or knows of someone who has, they are asked to report it to BBB Scam Tracker.

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