Wow, a dog that normally sells for at least a thousand bucks is being given away for free, and it’s young and healthy. Hmmm. The ad is on Facebook, too. Double hmmm.
In Lorain, Ohio, Jessica was that person who saw the Facebook ad—for a free English bulldog puppy. Free! But she had to pay shipping costs. Then she had to pay for shots and medical bills. Jessica ended up paying $6,500 for a free puppy. Amazingly, only e-mail was used for correspondence with the alleged puppy’s owner.
Would Jessica have had to spend this kind of money in a legitimate transaction for an English bulldog puppy? Maybe to some extent. Except in this case, she never got the puppy. And she never got her money back. She ended up in the doghouse.
How to Prevent These Scams
- Don’t pay for a puppy you’ve never held in your hands. Easier said than done, but there’s no breed out there that’s so rare that you can’t visit up close and personal. This way you can meet the owner, know that the puppy actually exists, and have a firmer grasp on the seller.
- Don’t be fooled by glorious photos of animals on websites. It’s so easy to lift photos from legitimate sources and put them up on a phony site that a third grader could do it.
- Be very careful about whom you send money to. Don’t wire it or use prepaid cards.
- An ad with misspellings and grammatical errors is suspect, but even a crook can have good writing skills. But if an ad is cluttered with poor English, this is a bright red flag since many pet scams come from overseas.
- Watch out for sob stories such as needing to find a home for “Roxie” because her owner is being deployed to a war zone.
- Make sure the puppy has “papers.” This means that the breeder can provide documentation that the puppy’s parents have been registered with the appropriate kennel club. This means that the dog is a legitimately pure-bred. And once you receive it, you should register it with the appropriate kennel club.