Online Puppy Scams On The Rise
It’s a shame some people have to ruin it for the rest of us. More and more we are seeing online puppy scams and it is disheartening that these scammers have no problem taking hard-earned money from well-intended puppy buyers. And as soon as they are reported, and the website is taken down and they simply put up another website and it starts all over again. It’s an uphill battle.
So instead of fighting these scammers on my own, I thought it would be helpful to educate our followers and anyone else on how to buy a puppy online without getting scammed. And then how to report it and shut them down.
1. No Phone Number – This is the first red flag in spotting a puppy scam. Most of these scams are done without even talking to the individual. Maybe it’s because there is no phone number to talk to anyone? Do you find that a little strange? First off, you don’t ever trust anyone online because you really don’t know who is behind the website. If you are looking to buy a puppy online, you’d better know who you’re dealing with especially since you’re buying sight unseen.
Anyone can fill out a form online. Anyone can send an email to you claiming they have puppies. I for one, like to get to know the person I am buying from and get to know the type of puppy I am buying. Most puppy scammers don’t post a number to call because they don’t want to talk to you. They just want you to fill out a form and communicate all via email correspondence.
Take the initiative to CALL the breeder and have a conversation with them. You’ll know soon enough whether or not they even know what they are talking about. Phones are amazing tools. They even do video. Now you can see the person you are talking to and even get a video of the puppy… just a thought.
Some of the more experienced puppy scammers are smarter than others, so on occasion, you may find some do have phone numbers and you can actually call them and they will talk to you. All you can do is have a good conversation with them and then begin to investigate a little deeper before you hand out your hard-earned money.
2. Website Registration Date – One of the beauties of knowing a little marketing is also being able to spot a fraud. Another quick way to find out if a certain site is scamming you is to look at the “Who Is”. Just do a google search for “Who Is Domain Lookup” – or just go to Who is Lookup – Then type in the domain name in question.
Domain registrars are under obligation to show you certain details about a website. Some of the information is private and if you’re a scammer, you’re obviously not going to put in your real name for people to see publicly.
So we’re not too concerned about “who” owns the website because it can be made up. What we are concerned about is the registration date. This is the date when the website was registered.
All domain registrars have to display this and is perfect for spotting puppy fraud sites. At the time of this writing, the date is October 28, 2021. I took a picture of the Date and Time using Timeanddate.com.
Now look at when this particular site (JayShepherds.com) was registered. August 16, 2021. Why is this suspicious? Because the website was created 74 days ago. For someone who breeds dogs for a living, they usually don’t start a website as soon as puppies are born. It just doesn’t make sense. Now, I’m sure it could happen, but it would be the exception, not the rule. It’s just another red flag that makes one look very guilty of fraud.
To give you more comfort and peace of mind, you want a website with AGE. So if a website was created 2+ years ago, this is good. This gives you as the new buyer confidence this breeder has been around for a while. If you look at the image below you can see that CanyonCreekAussies was created in 2014, so it has some domain AGE. It was created 2546 days ago (7 years). This is something you want to look for… Again this may not always be the case because you have to start somewhere, but it sure raises serious concerns.
If you’re still questioning, the internet is an amazing place. Did you know that it archives all the websites and their data? So if you wanted to see what dogs we were selling on the site last year at this time, you could actually find out. This can also work in your favor. If you go back even 2 months and see that the website hasn’t changed, and the puppy pictures are still the same as what is on there now, you know 100% it’s a scam.
We change out puppy pictures constantly. We sell puppies and add new ones to the site almost weekly. Our site is very active. You won’t see the same pictures on the site even if you go 1 month back. So if you go 2 months back and see the same PUPPY FOR SALE pictures, that puppy must now be 16 weeks old if it hasn’t sold so why are they advertising it as 8 weeks old. Then you can ask them to send you updated pictures and they won’t be able to. Then you can report them so they don’t scam someone else 🙂
Just to go www.archive.org – type in the domain name in the box that says WAYBACK MACHINE and waalaa.
This brings us to the next step…
3. Pictures – When selling a puppy and buying sight unseen, pictures say a thousand words. This is why we update them every two weeks because moms and dads want to see how their kids are doing and how they are growing. Not all breeders do this. In fact, very rarely do you find this.
Usually, you see the final puppy when they are 6-8 weeks old and then decide you want to add him or her to the family. We generally sell our puppies before that time frame so we like to give snapshots of their growing puppyhood.
If you look at our puppy pictures, you’ll notice a very common theme. THE BACKGROUND. The background of our puppy pictures are consistent. It’s the same blue carpet. It’s the same green grass. It’s the same brown bark chips. It’s the same porch. It’s even the same rocks! It’s because we take the photos here at Canyon Creek. We don’t steal them off the internet and post them to our site like a lot of puppy frauds.
Look at these puppy pictures. All of these pictures came off of ONE website. You’ll notice on ALL these puppy scam sites that all the pictures have different backgrounds. Different backgrounds of people’s houses and furniture. Two of them have random collars around their necks. Yes, these puppies already have owners. The fraudsters simply look up random Aussie puppy images on Google, Facebook and Instagram, then steal the images and post them as cute little puppies for sale.
I’ve seen the same puppy images used over and over and over again. I see them so often, I can immediately spot the fraudsters. They’ve used our puppy pics multiple times as well, pretending to be us, so you have to be careful.
So keep an eye out for consistency with the background in the picture. If one picture looks like the puppy is at someone’s house, and then another picture is at a different house with different furniture, and another and another, you can almost bet it’s a scam website. If the first 2 reasons are causing red flags to go off in your head, and now this confirms it, report it to the hosting company because they are stealing copyrighted images. I’ll show you how to do that in just a minute. Let’s continue…
4. No social proof/media – Google+, Facebook, Instagram – Any more we live in a world of information and social interactions are everywhere. Use this to your advantage. Most breeders have some sort of social media presence. It’s just the nature of the business.
So do some homework. Look up their Instagram page. See how active it is. While this can be manipulated, it’s difficult and time-consuming and most of these fraudsters just want quick and easy. They go after those who don’t do their research. Luring them in with too good to be true prices.
5. Too Good to be True – My dad always told me, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. We’ll that same adage applies in the puppy world. Since the pandemic, the puppy market really took off. And because there was a huge interest in owning a furry friend while being quarantined, there because a huge increase in fake puppy sites wanting to sell puppies online.
If you see an Australian Shepherd puppy for sale for $300 – $800, this is a very low price for one of these puppies. While there may be some “backyard breeders” offering puppies this low, it’s usually the exception. Just do your due diligence because once you hand over your money, it’s gone for the most part, unless of course, you pay with a credit card or PayPal. When in doubt, use another layer of protection that credit cards give you. Most scam sites don’t accept credit cards by the way. And please, don’t use debit cards, money orders, cashier’s checks, Venmo or send a wire transfer either, unless all these steps check out ok.
Most breeders will ask for a deposit. And rightfully so to hold your puppy. Deposits can range from $200-$500. If you have a relationship with the breeder and have confirmed all these steps to be legitimate, then you can rest assured that all is good and the breeder is legit. Then you can determine with the breeder how to secure your puppy.
6. Reporting Fraud – If you suspect fraud, you should report it. If enough of us report them, hopefully, it will discourage them from putting up more scam puppy websites.
To report a site, find out who is hosting the website. Use the same WHO IS tool in step 2 and it will tell you who they are hosting the website with. In our example fraud site above, if you look where it says NAME SERVERS, they are hosting with NAMECHEAPHOSTING.COM. If you go to the hosting site, scroll to the bottom, there will be a REPORT ABUSE link where you can report abuse.
I hope this post will help someone who is trying to buy a puppy online without getting scammed 🙂 It’s actually very simple if you just do a little homework…30 minutes can save you hundreds!