Beware of Online Puppy Purchasing Scams

May 03, 2017

It's a popular time of year for consumers to search for a new four-legged friend to include in their summer adventures. However, your Better Better Business Bureau is urging prospective fur parents to beware of online puppy purchasing scams that can end with you being in the financial doghouse.

Since the beginning of this year, BBB Scam Tracker has processed over 280 scam reports pertaining to puppies. Many of these scams originate online through ads that claim a new litter of purebred puppies is available for adoption. To reserve your puppy, all you have to do is send money by an untraceable method, such as wire transfer or prepaid card. In many instances, requests for additional payment are made to cover fees pertaining to insurance, veterinary care and shipping. Some of these online ads even redirect to legitimate appearing websites with adorable pictures of supposedly available puppies for adoption.

In one such instance reported locally through BBB Scam Tracker, Turner Bosler claimed a non-existent Pittsburgh address and advertised Maltipoo and Bichon Frise puppies for sale online. The company required a $250 payment by wire transfer, but once payment was provided, could not be contacted and the puppy was never sent. Similarly, another local consumer reported sending $598 to Jamie Puppies Inc., which alleged a New Castle address, in exchange for a boxer puppy that never arrived.

"BBB advises puppy purchasers to do their due diligence and avoid making this particular purchase online, even if the cost seems significantly lower, as you'll likely pay more in the long run," says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. "It's a simple process for scammers to setup online ads, social media posts and free websites to promote a bogus business, so don't be fooled by pictures that could easily be pirated from legitimate breeders."

Avoid puppy scams with the following BBB tips:

  • Visit the seller. Responsible and reputable puppy breeders should be more than happy to offer you a tour and let you see available puppies in person. Avoid breeders that only allow you to have a puppy shipped and refuse to meet face-to-face.
  • Confirm location. It should be a red flag if no physical location is provided by the seller and even if one is listed, verify its actual existence.
  • Check for credentials. If shopping online, verify the legitimacy of the website. If it's an actual business, search for more information on the company on Ask if the breeder is a member of an American Kennel Club affiliated club and contact the club to verify membership. If the breeder is located in PA and claims to keep or transfer at least 26 dogs per calendar year, confirm kennel licensing with the PA Department of Agriculture.
  • Ask for references. Talk to others who have purchased puppies from the breeder and contact the veterinarian the breeder claims to work with verification.
  • Pay by credit card. If a seller tries to pressure you into wiring money, paying with a gift card or by prepaid card, it is likely a scam. Don't fall for attempts to take more of your money with emergency requests to cover insurance, transportation, a special shipping container or veterinarian bills.
  • Be aware of red flags. If the asking price is significantly lower than the average price of a particular breed, it is likely too good to be true. Beware of potential stories meant to tug at your heartstrings, such as the need for a re-homing fee for a "free" puppy due to an unexpected move, emergency or military deployment.

For more helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau, visit If you are unable to resolve a marketplace dispute with a business, file a complaint through BBB and report scams and known instances of fraud to BBB Scam Tracker.