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How to avoid a 'puppy scam'


Three puppies look out from the enclosure. French Bulldog Puppies. Black, brindle color. Elite, pedigree dogs. Big ears

Our blog posts are normally related to observations taken from client experiences and changes to the law. This time, this blog comes from an experience of one of our staff members, who was clever enough to spot a scam when buying a puppy and managed to avoid it.

Puppy scams have become more and more prevalent in South Australia particularly. In attempting to find a legitimate breeder our staff member came across four more scams in 24 hours which highlights this is a common problem. 

For this reason, we decided to write a blog on the tips to avoid a puppy scam

What is a puppy scam?

Puppy scam involves pictures of fictional puppies being sold online with promises of delivery to South Australia only once payment is made to the breeder, you pay money thinking you will receive the cutest puppy in the mail but the puppy never arrives. In fact the puppy was never available (only a picture) and you feel embarrassed firstly and upset secondly because new puppies are pretty exciting.

Why puppy scams are more prevalent in South Australia?

Puppy scam is a problem for South Australians, as there aren't many puppy breeders that operate locally,  as many legitimate breeders exist outside of the State. This means buyers often need to source their new puppy from interstate. The scams often target the more popular breeds of dogs, which currently include French bulldogs and corgis amongst others.

How to determine if a dog breeder is legitimate?

The questions and enquiries you make to ensure your dog breeder isn't a scammer:

  1. Try before you buy: insist on seeing the puppy before you buy, tell the breeder you will be travelling to their location and you'd like to make a time to meet. See what they say, a scam will often stop communicating when you ask this question.
  2. ID check: ask for Breeder ID details and check the details given against the licensing bodies. 
  3. Vet and registration records: ask for vet records and registration details, these should be available.
  4. Breeder Association: call the breeder association linked to the breed of dog you want to buy. They are often aware of scams and may be able to point you in the direction of a legitimate breeder.
  5. Photographic evidence: ask for more photos of the puppy. Often scammers use stock photos readily available on the web. It's not difficult to photograph the puppy so you should be able to get more photos of the real puppy. If not, search images on Google chances are you'll find the same dog being sold by another scammer. If you can't get photos, be very wary.

Some of these tips are common sense but they are often overlooked in the throes of buying a new puppy. The promise of a cute puppy often means people forego these checks. 

Being tech savvy - some checks you can make online to avoid being scammed: 

  1. Download the image of the puppy and check the file name. Files with a generic description or even a description suggests the image is not a recent photograph.
  2. Images should also be copied into Google as already mentioned. If more than one website has the picture, consider that the breeder is likely a scam.
  3. Consider the web address whether it is .com.au or simply .com may make you investigate further. Look for signs that the website is legitimate.
  4. Run the website through a domain checker; our staff member found that her scammer's website was hosted in Cyprus.
  5. The text of the ad can also be copied and pasted into Google to see if anyone else uses the same text or has before. 

These tips are not all foolproof, but they do give you a guide as to how to interact with scammers both in the real world and in the online environment.

Simple research of the breeder, business names. online reviews and speaking on the phone to the person (not just email) should give you a feel for the legitimacy of the seller.

If you have concerns, need advice or are still unsure contact Andersons Solicitors and we can point you in the right direction. No-one likes a scammer but everyone loves puppies!

This blog post was written by Antony Boonen and settled by Felix Hoelscher

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Antony 003.jpg
Get in touch with today's blog writer :
Antony Boonen 

Solicitor in Commercial Law and Business Law

Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to Australian Federal and South Australian legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.