The 12 Scams of Christmas: #4
Christmas is a time of giving, of spending time with loved ones, and of celebrating the birth of Christ. This Christmas season, make sure you can focus on the true meaning of Christmas by avoiding scams. Follow along with our 12 Scams of Christmas series to learn more about the most common scams encountered around the holidays and make sure to use browser protection to avoid holiday scams occurring online.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 4 Puppy Mill Pooches
If you’re looking for an adorable new pet to add to your family this Christmas, beware of these two puppy scams.
Puppy Scam: Approach 1
Scammers post ads depicting adorable puppies or other pets online. They might say they’re pet breeders, pet sellers, or distraught pet owners who need to find a new home for their beloved family pet. Once you inquire about the pet, they ask you to wire money through Western Union or Moneygram to complete the purchase.
The seller promises to transfer the pet right away and may even provide tracking information. Then, there’s an unexpected problem. Scammers may use any excuse, like the airline requires a specific pet crate or the shipper requires costly pet insurance--each of which must be paid before shipping can take place. With each unexpected problem, scammers assure the unsuspecting victim that they’ll refund the unexpected costs as soon as the pet is delivered. In most cases, the pet never arrives nor is the refund.
Puppy Scam: Approach 2
Like the first scam approach, scammers post ads depicting adorable puppies or other pets online. The scammer requests In this case, the pet actually does exist, however, instead of being the happy, healthy, human-adjusted pet advertised, the pet that arrives comes from a puppy mill. These puppy mills breed dogs in inhumane conditions, pushing the parents to produce litter after litter of puppies without a chance to fully recover from the last litter.
When a puppy mill pooch arrives, victims receive dogs that are very aggressive and hostile toward their new owners due to the mistreatment they received from their breeders. These dogs may have diseases, be severely underweight, and have numerous undisclosed health conditions.
How Can I Avoid Puppy Scams this Holiday Season
Scammers who carry out puppy mill scams prey on high-emotion situations, like the excitement of buying a new pet. This excitement can cloud otherwise good judgement, resulting in financial and emotional pain when victims realize they’ve lost their money and hopes for the new pet they envisioned. Here are ways that you can protect yourself from these scams.
- Check out your local humane society or pet shelter before turning to a breeder. There are many homeless pets looking for a good, loving home.
- When buying online, always use browser protection to alert you when a pet adoption website is too new to be trusted or contains scams and other malicious content.
- If possible, inspect your pet yourself by arranging an in-person meeting. Most legitimate pet breeders will welcome the visit.
- Never send money by Western Union, Moneygram, gift cards, or prepaid cards to breeders or sellers you don’t already know and trust. Once that money is wired, it’s gone forever. Instead, opt for a credit card that offers fraud protection so you can get your money back if the sale turns sour.
- Search online for a picture of the pet you’re considering. If the same picture appears on multiple sites, you’re likely dealing with a fraud. Also search for text from the ad to see if it has been copied from other sites.