How To Avoid Puppy Scams
Puppy Scams are becoming more and more prevalent as a greater percentage of Americans are originally finding their puppy on the internet. Several years ago, one of our close friends told us that their mother (in her 80’s) sent a wire transfer of $2,000 to supposedly get a Yorkie puppy from an online breeder. After several weeks she still had not received the puppy. When she reached out again to the supposed breeder, he said that he had miscalculated the price of the flight, and she needed to send another $1,000. Thankfully this time, she got her family involved. Her grandson knew a private detective, and as they researched it further, they found that the breeder’s number was just a burner phone. It traced to an area of Michigan where a number of scammers from other countries had set up a scam system. It was impossible for her to get back her $2,000, but at least she did not get ripped out of the other $1,000.
Puppy scammers (like other scammers) prey on people who are vulnerable. In addition to targeting the elderly, it has been shown that puppy scammers are often effective in deceiving puppy buyers in their late teens and early twenties. This demographic is likely to believe what they see online, have very little “real world experience,” and be desperately wanting a cute puppy for a really good deal. Many of these young people fall right into the hands of the puppy scammers.
Puppy scammers copy and paste photos and text from other websites and try to pull on people’s heartstrings about a super cute puppy that’s available right now. About 40,000 puppy scams are reported each year, and that’s probably just a fraction of people who have been scammed, as many people are too embarrassed to admit that they were scammed.
Through the years, many of the families that have reached out to Crockett Doodles have done so after being scammed by someone else. My parents taught me that if something is “too good to be true,” then it probably is false. We have worked for nearly a decade to develop a stellar reputation as an upstanding network of family raised Doodle pups. We encourage you to compare our reviews on the Better Business Bureau to any other breeder, and we think you will see why so many families have trusted us for a pup. At the time of this writing we have over 200 reviews on the BBB, and right around 98% are 5 stars (out of 5 stars). When you realize that most people reach out to the BBB when they have a complaint, our continued out performance of competing breeders reviews is notable. A few of our largest competitors also have many reviews, but the 1 and 2 star complaints far outnumber their 4 and 5 star reviews.
Puppy Scam Details
In September of 2017, the Better Business Bureau published an exceptionally helpful ten page report documenting its thorough research into puppy scams. That detailed BBB report was entitled “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers.” The BBB report was written by their international investigations team, and it is the best research that I have read on the subject. The specific bullet points below are taken from the thorough 2017 BBB article as well as an updated BBB report (9/1/2020).
- The BBB estimates nearly 80% of puppies advertised online are puppy scam frauds.
- The U.S. and Canada have been hit the hardest and are pursuing legal action. Many of the frauds have come out of Cameroon, West Africa.
- Typically the puppy scammer offers a pup for free (or very cheap), once the victim wires a small amount of money for the pup, the fraudster will demand more money for travel, crates, unforeseen expenses, etc.
- Puppy scam artists often play on people’s emotions claiming that a puppy is in desperate need of a home.
- In addition to fake puppy scam websites, most puppy fraudulent sales happen on Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook.
- Approximately 24% of all online purchase fraud reported to the BBB involves puppy scams. It’s a huge category of online fraud.
- Puppy scam victims lose about $700 on average, but some have reported that they’ve been taken for $5,000 or more.
- These breeds are those most often involved with scams—in order (French Bulldogs, Yorkies, Pomeranians, Bulldogs, Huskies, Golden Retrievers, Shi Tzu, Maltese, Pugs, Pomskys, Labradors, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Beagles, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, Poodles, and Corgis).
- California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York were the states whose residents reported the highest numbers of scams. The scammer often time did not live in that state, but these are the states with the most victims of puppy scamming.
- Puppy Scams hit all time highs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Puppy Scam Warning Signs
- Don’t ever wire money for a puppy. You should pay by certified check or cash (in person) or by PayPal or Credit Card (if your puppy is being transported by a reliable breeder).
- Don’t pay through Western Union, MoneyGram, GreenDot, Vanilla Gift Cards, Walmart instant transfer, or iTunes money. A reputable breeder will have you pay with cash or certified check at pickup, and via PayPal or Credit Card if ordering a delivery.
- Don’t ever work with a “breeder” who is not registered with the Better Business Bureau or who has horrible reviews with the BBB. Take the time to read BBB reviews.
- Don’t ever buy a puppy from Facebook, Craigslist, or Ebay.
- Don’t trust websites that use stock photos or photos copied from another website. At Crockett Doodles, each of our pictures are pictures that we took of one of our puppies, or a picture that was sent to us of from a forever home of their Crockett Doodles pup.
- If something seems to good to be true, it likely is. Puppies that are supposedly super cheap are almost always part of a scam.
Scammers Who Claim to Be Associated with Crockett Doodles
We’ve received increasing alerts from our Crockett Doodles followers that other breeders are posting our pictures as if their own. We have found several complete copy cat websites, where others have stolen our pictures, our text, and sometimes even claimed to be associated with me (Dr. Nathan Crockett) or Crockett Doodles. To our knowledge we have the best reputation of any Doodle breeder (or network of breeders), and we believe we have the largest social media following of any Doodle breeder. Our outstanding reputation puts a huge target on our back from the scammers who want to piggy back on our good name and reputation.
We’ve heard from some of the families on our Crockett Doodles wait list that other breeders are privately messaging them on Facebook congratulating them that their wait is over, and their puppy is ready. These fraudulent “breeders” claim to be a part of Crockett Doodles, but they are not. It’s a bold faced lie to try to piggy back on our reputation. In some cases, we think these “breeders” are completely frauds who likely do not have any puppies available (scam artists). In other cases, it might be a low quality breeder who’s seeking to use Crockett Doodles reputation to sell a puppy they could not otherwise sell. These unethical (or fake) breeders have even offered to apply the $300 deposit with Crockett Doodles toward the purchase of their new pup.
It’s said that imitation is the highest form of compliment, so maybe we at Crockett Doodles should be thankful that we’ve developed such a great reputation that people are constantly trying to copy us (mimic our logo, copy our name, steal sections of our website, even claim to be associated with our network). However, we do not want any of our followers to be scammed by someone claiming to be associated with us. You can read about our core team members here on our website.
Also, our email correspondence will come from someone @crockettdoodles.com and will direct you back to our website. When you’re matched with a puppy from Crockett Doodles you’ll receive all the contact info of one of our partner homes, who are very real people. We’ve spent nearly a decade building an impeccable reputation, and we don’t want fraudsters to mislead people by claiming to be us.
We have the best fans in the world; thanks for your continued support and patience (for those who are on the deposit list, waiting every day to receive an announcement about your puppy). Our fans are wonderful! We want to protect you and protect our own reputation. We are thankful for other reputable breeders who have the integrity to be who they are and not claim to be something they’re not.
Nearly every week, we hear from our fans about another puppy scam (sometimes someone pretending to be us or blatantly plagiarizing our website and pictures). We appreciate knowing about these scams, though most of the time there is very little we can do to stop them. We want to encourage everyone to be vigilant, work with reputable companies, and do your due diligence to sniff out puppy scammers and frauds. For all of you in the wonderful Crockett Doodles community, thanks again for your support; it means the world to us.