Buying a Puppy for Mom? Watch Out for Online Pet Scams!

May 09, 2017

(New York, NY) – Mother’s Day is coming up soon and some families may want to delight Mom on her special day with a new puppy, kitten or other pet. BBB Serving Metropolitan New York is warning that a growing number of consumers are reporting that scammers are offering animals for sale through the Internet, taking large sums of money in payment - and then failing to deliver the promised pets.

Consumer reports allege that scammers offered to sell especially attractive breeds of dogs, such as Bulldogs, Terriers and German Shepherds. In a few cases, the buyer was offered the chance to purchase a kitten or a parrot; but dog purchase scams are typical.

“Online pet seller scams are getting more frequent,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of BBB Serving Metropolitan New York. “Before buying a pet, be sure to check the business at, ask for references and medical records, check relevant documentation, and avoid sellers who behave in ways that bring up red flags.”

Bogus pet sellers operate in similar ways. Pet buyers should watch out for these “red flag” seller behaviors and avoid potential online scams. Ideally, purchase pets only from legitimate sellers with verifiable reputations, after you are able to see the animal first, check its papers, and view its health condition. Don’t forget that pet adoption from a local charity is also a great possibility!


  • Pets are advertised online at prices that seem unusually cheap for the breed or animal being offered for sale.
  • Seller may press hard for quick payment via Western Union or another payment method that would be almost impossible to stop or reverse.
  • Seller’s website or ad may use photos or descriptions of animals that have been stolen from websites operated by legitimate pet breeders.
  • Seller is unable or refuses to provide documentation about an animal’s pedigree, authenticity, and condition.
  • If seller receives one payment, he or she may begin asking for additional, rapid and increasing payments for items such as special pet crates, insurance, or shipping.

These reports about online pet sale scams are drawn from Scam TrackerSM, BBB's free interactive tool that provides consumers across North America with a place to post and view reports about scams, fraud, and malicious or suspicious activities. For more information, visit to find Scam Tracker and to check BBB Charity Reports on nonprofits that offer pets for adoption.


About BBB Serving Metropolitan New York
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 170 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 106 regional, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation. The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922. Please visit or for more information.