INTERNET PUPPY SCAM HITS CLOSE TO HOME

July 9, 2020
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

It was just last month that the American Kennel Club issued a warning about online “puppy scams” in its article How to Spot a Puppy Scam Online.

The scams have hit close to home.

One Buffalonian and friend of the SPCA who wishes to remain anonymous cautions those looking for puppies to avoid a scam to which he fell victim this week.

“Sam” has been looking for a puppy for several months and has sent online applications, which included his mobile number, to various local and national groups. When he received a text from, the sender claimed, a representative of one animal organization based in Tennessee (although the text was from a 916 Sacramento, CA area code), Sam was delighted to learn the organization had a Golden Retriever puppy available right in New York. Fulton, NY, to be exact. The text message included photos of a puppy that looked very similar to the puppy in this photo: two photos of the puppy with a red ribbon around his neck standing next to a red Valentine’s Day heart, and one photo of the puppy on a blue mat next to a pail and flowers.

The pictures looked vaguely familiar, and since Sam had been looking for a puppy for a few months, he assumed he saw the photos at some point during his search. The puppy was too appealing to pass up. Sam expressed interest and asked when he might be able to purchase and pick up the pup.

The representative said he’d hold the puppy with a 50% “reservation deposit,” nearly $400,  payable through mobile payment service Cash App. The balance would be paid upon puppy pick-up the following day. The address was a home on West 3rd Street South in Fulton, NY, approximately 2 1/2 hours away.

Upon Sam’s arrival at the home yesterday, there was no animal organization representative, no puppy, and Sam was told he was the fourth person this month who arrived at the home looking for this very Golden Retriever pup.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), most victims of puppy scams lose between $100 and $1000, although some report losing considerably more. The BBB recommends reporting fraud to the BBB Scam Tracker, Petscams.com, the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-FTC-HELP), and others. Find this information and more in the BBB’s November, 2019 article Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers / A BBB Study .

The Humane Society of the United States shares warnings about Internet pet sale consumer scams, how to find a reputable dog breeder, and more in Consumer Scam: Internet Pet Sales.