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What Your Customers Need to Know About Online Puppy Scams


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In September, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a dire warning about online puppy scams. The BBB estimated that “tens of thousands of consumers in the U.S. and around the world may have fallen victim to the scam, with prospective buyers losing anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars each to the thieves.” 

This warning has been echoed by pet industry professionals, especially with the holiday season closing in. Earlier this week, Puppyspot CEO Greg Liberman was on “Good Morning America” to describe some key things to watch for if you’re being scammed.

“Typically, puppy scams prey on open hearts and open wallets,” Liberman said on GMA. “They’ll typically have only a website, and only communicate with you online, and they’ll try to force you to pay them via Western Union or money gram. Those are big red flags.”

According to Liberman, “PayPal, credit cards, or any reputable source” of payment is a sign that a dog sale is legitimate. “Responsible breeders and shelters are transparent,” he continued. “They have reviews, they want you to read those reviews, whereas many puppy scams emanate overseas, typically in Nigeria and Cameroon.” 

As Christmas approaches, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is urging pet industry retailers and breeders, as well as shelters and rescues, to remind customers to only get pets from reputable sources. We are also working with lawmakers to enact policies that will help ensure pet lovers have as many legitimate sources of pets as possible.  


Dustin Siggins is director of communications for PIJAC. 

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