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You want to buy a puppy, so you look online for breeders. You come across a website that appears to be run by dog breeder who has puppies for sale. There are photos of the puppies and guarantees of their health and vaccinations. There's even a section about the breeders with glowing testimonials. The prices of these puppies are lower than those of other breeders (or perhaps the dog owner is in a foreign country and will give you the dog for free!)
You email the breeder. The puppy is still available, the breeder is happy to ship him or her to you. All you need to do is use a wire transfer (or other untraceable method) to send money to the "breeder." Then, he or she will ship you your new dog.
Don't do it! The scammer won't send the puppy, because the dog doesn't exist. The scammer simply stole the pictures and other information from a legitimate breeders' website.
*** BBB suggests you always visit the breeder. Responsible breeders and rescue groups will be more than happy to offer you a tour.
*** Search for website warning signs. The reason fake breeder websites look real is because the content is typically stolen from another site. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet. Also, search for the domain name on "WHOIS Lookup." Make sure the site is hosted in the country where the breeders claim to be located. Many puppy scams come from Nigeria or Jamaica.
*** Pick your puppy up at the kennel. Don't rely on the breeder to ship the puppy.
*** Check references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the veterinarian the breeder works with.
*** Pay with check or credit card. If a breeder pressures you to pay by wire transfer or prepaid debit card, it is probably a scam.