According to the BBB, there’s been an increase in online puppy scams taking place.
Pet scams now comprise 24% of online scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker which was up from 17% in 2019.
That’s a huge jump and unfortunately, when it comes to greedy people looking to make fast cash on someone’s hopes and dreams, no breed is safe.
In late 2020, one grieving mother searching for a Newfoundland puppy was scammed out of $2,600 and no puppy.
The stories don’t end there and in fact, they are expected to rise as 2020 reports come in.
There are hundreds if not thousands of people being duped by these scammers and the pandemic only fueled their greed.
While I feel that I would be able to easily spot a puppy scam taking place, none of us can speak for those who don’t know that there are better and safer ways to get a puppy of your dreams so here’s a list of ways to avoid being scammed when buying a puppy.
No Deposit, No Deal
Some breeders require a deposit on a puppy before they are born and some do not but if a seller is demanding that you send money before they will answer any questions about the puppy that’s your clue to walk away.
Any breeder should be happy to answer some of your questions without any requirements and they should want to ask you a few too, regardless of the money being exchanged.
No Contract, No Puppy
Puppy contracts are underrated.
It protects you, the breeder and the welfare of the puppy so everyone involved should want one.
2 of the most important things in a puppy contract are the welfare of the puppy and the price so why wouldn’t a breeder want one?
The average cost for a Newfoundland puppy ranges from $1500-$3000, depending on where you live and what breeder you are talking with.
Anything under $1,000 should be questionable.
Not only are Newfies an expensive breed to own but they are also an expensive dog to breed and the cost should reflect that.
Believe me, you don’t just want a purebred Newfie, you want a well-breed Newfie and a Newfie for $500 is not a well-bred Newfie.
A $500 Newfie puppy will likely cost you thousands of dollars in medical problems in the future.
Locate The Orginal Picture
Most puppy scammers don’t have a puppy in their possession so they steal pictures from someone else.
If you’re questioning the authenticity of a picture, do a reverse image search.
To do a reverse search on the picture, copy the URL on the photo, and click on google images.
A picture of a camera should appear in the search bar.
From there, click the camera and you copy the URL into the search toolbar.
Here’s an easy guide to follow if you want to do a reverse image search.
Also, be aware of stock images.
Stock images are available to anyone for a small price.
The picture above is a stock picture that I paid for and anyone could pay for the same one and put it on the website and say it’s their puppy. .
Please note that if the picture has been resized it may be the only image that shows in the search.
Check For Testimonies
The BBB encourages users to check these websites for red flags, as well as look for testimonies from real buyers.
It’s important to note that not all testimonies are real and you can go a step further and ask the seller for the contact info of past buyers.
Additional Shipping Charges and Complications
Some people chose to have their puppies shipped to them but there should always be the option to pick your puppy up from the dog breeder’s home.
If shipping is the buyer’s choice but there are immediate shipping problems, this is a scammer’s way of getting more money from you.
A lot of breeders will actually have someone accompany a puppy if flying on a plane and some will use a private shipping company, this is the best but most expensive route to go when shipping a puppy.
Puppy scammers will often say that a puppy is being shipping and then just when a buyer thinks everything is going smoothly, they will be notified of a problem with shipping and be asked to send more money.
Be aware of the shipping laws in your location as it can prevent you from being scammed with fake shipping costs and services.
Avoid Money Transfer Service
The surest sign of a scam is when someone insists you use a service like Western Union or MoneyGram as the only acceptable form of payment for a pet.
That’s like sending cash that you’ll never get back.
And never buy a puppy on Facebook or any other social media platform.
Check The Website For Red Flags
Scammers get smarter as technology advances but there are still some ways that you can pick one out of a crowd if you pay close attention.
Anyone can whip up a website and throw some pictures and a description on it.
They can also copy and paste information about whatever breed they are trying to represent.
However, depending on your breed and how well you know it, you can weed through the words and pictures.
For Newfies, if you are on a website or in a group on social media and they have a bunch of puppies up for sale that are all different colors, that’s a red flag.
Here’s the PERFECT example of a scam going on right now (11/20/2023) in a FB group:
This group has EASY to spot red flags all over the place.
I’ve seen a few sites where pictures of puppies that were said to be of the same age and litter were taken in all kinds of different scenarios.
One was in the snow while the other was in a field of flowers.
Another was taken on a farm while the other was a puppy sitting on a front porch in a suburban area.
Details are important!
Do they link at all to any breed club or affiliation?
Even if the breeder isn’t listed on a breed club’s breeder list, they will still link to reputable sources of the breed for further education.
What about the parents?
Is there any information or pictures about them?
They don’t necessarily have to be a site but there should be a way that you can view them and check them out.
Perhaps a link to their breeder, a link to their OFA results or the Newfoundland Database.
I can tell you that as of right now when I do a Google search for Newfoundland breeders, on the first page there are at least 2 scammers listed.
They tend to go by other names and they are:
- Jaydens Newfoundlands- this one has our friend @kingkekoa_thenewfie on their front page as a grown adult male. I can assure you that Koa is not from this breeder rather he is from a very ethical Newfoundland breeder in Norway.
- My Next Home Newfoundlands. This one has a picture of our friend Abigail holding her Newfie, Chewie. It has her names listed as Alice on the testimonial page. Their health guarantee page also sounds very familiar to me such I’m pretty sure that it’s been copy and pasted.
- Hopeland Puppies. This one has our friend @blaze_the_newfie listed as an 11-week old puppy for sale. Blaze is currently 2 years old and happily living with his family.
- Healthy Newfoundland Pups. I can’t find this one currently online but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
These sites have AD in front of their domain and they are both created by the same person.
I didn’t link to these websites because I don’t want to give them any extra search juice but they have ALL the red flags including pictures of puppies that are the same age and a rainbow of colors and one of the brown and white puppies is actually one of our friends that we follow on IG.
View this post on Instagram
On a personal note, I can tell you that Sherman’s picture was used more than once as the picture of a sire to a litter that he never produced and I know a few of our friends have recently had this happen with their male Newfies and it sucks.
Facebook Group Puppy Scams
Facebook puppy group scams are on the rise and my page along with many other pages get spanned with links all day long.
I’m never going to try and sell anyone a puppy on Facebook EVER.
I’m neven going to let a breeder, any dog breeder, try to sell any of my friends a puppy on social media.
I’m also NEVER going to invite anyone to a Newfoundland group that sells puppies on Facebook.
Don’t fall for these.
I know myself and many other pages have tried our best to block these spam groups from showing up but sometimes they find a way to sneak through.
Stay far away from and don’t interact with them.
This above page is a little concerning because it has over a thousand followers but it’s a classic puppy scam page.
Starting with the name.
Switching out the word buy for adoption is a classic scam term.
Plus they have a picture of Lou and Odin on their page for sale along with several other stolen pictures of Newfie puppies and adult dogs.
Use Puppy Scam Tracking Websites
Yes, there are websites that can help identify a puppy scam!
These websites keep records of scamming websites, breeders, and contact information.
These are reported and researched by workers and the public.
These websites will research the claims and publicize any of those that prove to be scams.
Keep in mind that new scammers or those that have recently changed their details may not be recognized so if you’re getting a bad vibe and they aren’t listed, don’t take these sites as confirmation that the dog breeder is legit.
Puppy Scam Website Trackers
PetScams.com currently has over 23,000 fraudulent pet websites listed in its directory.
Currently, 8 Newfoundland scam breeders are listed there.
If you want to check a breed other than a Newfoundland, simply head to the search bar on the website and type in the breed but please note that not all puppy scammers are listed.
If you know of a puppy scam that is not listed you can submit their website and it will be investigated.
The investigation process can take weeks depending on how many scams they are currently investigating.
International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) details the identification of scammers along with all the current scammers reported and their identification details.
Fraud.org deals with all kinds of scams including pet scams.
You can fill out a detailed form to file a complaint about an alleged puppy scammer.
While it may be easy for you and me to spot a puppy scam, unfortunately, those new to the breed may not be as well-informed.
We encourage you to share this post with as many people as you can so that we can reach those who may fall victim to these types of puppy scams.