According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, there seems to be an increasing number of online classified ad scams targeting dog lovers. Read on for tips on how to avoid being a victim of this puppy fraud…

Imagine this: you’re scouring Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, looking for a furry-footed friend to join your family. Finally, you spot her and the price is perfect. After contacting the seller, you learn all you have to do is pay for the dog using an online e-transfer or maybe some prepaid credit cards. You transfer the funds, wait a few days and try to contact the seller. You get no response.

So what happened? You were the victim of the “puppy scam.” Here are some tips for avoiding this fraud:

  1. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics. Be wary if the seller tries to pressure you to “act now.” Always take as much time as you need to ensure you’re making an informed purchasing decision.
  2. Do your research. While there might be many legitimate pet sellers on classified ad websites, remember that these sites aren’t monitored and are free for anyone to use. Most legitimate breeders will have up-to-date websites, not just a social media account. Consider limiting your search to your local area: this way you can check the animal out first and avoid sending payments via e-transfer. Here are some extra tips from the RCMP:
    1. Purebred dogs must be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. Use their website to find registered breeders
    2. If you have not seen the puppy in person, request proof it is at least 8 weeks old and has received its first round of shots and vaccines. 
  3. Know the risks. When sending e-transfers or prepaid credit cards, it can very difficult to get that money back. Understand that you may never see that money again so it’s important to ask questions first. 
  4. Trust your instincts. Remember: if an offer seems too good to be true, it often is.

If you’ve been a victim of this scam, report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker. Reporting your experience will help others in the future. 


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