COLUMBUS —Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned that
some animal breeders and sellers who advertise online are con artists.
In 2015, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received about 30 complaints
from consumers who said they bought a puppy or other pet online but
never received anything in return. The average reported loss was
“Scammers go online, post cute pictures of a puppy, and get you to feel
connected to the dog, even though it’s all a scam,” Attorney General
DeWine said. “I would encourage anyone to ask to see the dog in person
before making any payments.”
In a typical puppy scam, a consumer finds an ad for a puppy online. The
consumer communicates with the seller, agrees to buy the puppy, and
eventually wires a few hundred dollars to have the puppy delivered.
After paying, however, the consumer never receives the puppy. Instead,
the seller demands more money for insurance or transportation costs and
threatens to turn in the consumer for animal abuse if the consumer
refuses to pay.
Signs of a puppy scam include:
Offers that are too good to be true, such as paying $650 for a puppy valued at $1,300.
Sellers who require payment via wire transfer or money order.
Extra costs for airline pet insurance or a temperature-controlled crate.
Threats that you’ll be turned in for animal abuse or neglect if you don’t pay.
Attorney General DeWine offered consumers the following tips to avoid scams:
Research breeders and sellers carefully. Check complaints filed with
the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau, and
review feedback from other customers. Be skeptical if you find no
information; some scam artists change names regularly to trick
consumers. If possible, work with a local, reputable organization.
Conduct an online image search of the puppy’s photo to see where else
the picture is posted on the Internet. (Search “how to search by image”
for help determining how to do this.) If the same picture shows up in
multiple places, it could be part of a scam.
Visit the puppy in person before paying. If possible, take the puppy to an independent veterinarian for a health exam.
Don’t trust sellers who accept payment only via wire transfer, prepaid
card, or money order. These are preferred payment methods for scam
artists because once the money is sent, it is very difficult to track or