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cute puppyLots of people feel the urge to cuddle and care for a puppy – especially one that doesn’t have a home and needs all the TLC an animal lover can give. But if you see an online ad for a dog, or any pet, be warned: that pooch’s pic may just be a trick to steal your money.

Scam artists have bilked animal lovers by posting ads with pictures of puppies and other pets. The ads often include a compelling story about why the puppy is available, and details about his or her lovable personality. The ads may request a reasonable payment for the pet, say $300, or they may claim the pet is available to a good home for free – if you pay for shipping.

If you pay, you’ll get additional requests for money for things like vet bills, crating, shipping, or inspection costs. But when it’s all said and spent, Lassie never comes home – because she wasn’t really for sale in the first place.

Here are a few tips to keep you from getting dogged by scammers selling phantom pets:

  • Don’t use a money transfer service. The surest sign of a scam is when someone insists you use a money transfer service – like Western Union or MoneyGram – as the only form of payment for a pet. Money transfers are like sending cash; once you send it, you can’t get it back. Cash reload packs – like GreenDot MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload or Reloadit – come with the same risks. 
  • Do your research. Ask for detailed information about the person selling the pet. What is the person’s full name, phone number and mailing address? What turns up if you search online for the seller’s name or phone number with the word “scam” or “complaint”?
  • Try doing a reverse image search of the photo to see if it appears in older ads. To do this, right click on the photo and select “copy image location,” “copy image address,” or go to “properties” to copy the image’s location on the internet. Paste the link into a search engine and select the option that allows you to search by image. If the same picture shows up in an older listing, it’s probably a scam. Sometimes, the photos are from social media sites or old listings; the scammer simply re-posts them with a new, bogus online classified ad. But keep in mind: even if you don’t find anything wrong it doesn’t mean that everything’s alright.
  • Consider adoption from a local animal shelter. Pets of all types are in shelters across the U.S. waiting for loving homes. Many can be adopted for a small fee.

If a pretending pooch peddler pilfers money from your pockets, file a complaint with the FTC. If you transferred money for to a scammer for a pet that never appeared, let the money transfer company know, too.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Minnie the mouse
November 29, 2016
Wow, wish I had seen all this before now, I sent the 580.00 fir the yorkie, now they are holding the pup for ransome, they want me to sent 995.00 to the Shipping co. In Nevada by Dec. 3rd 2016 or else. OMG, are these human beings or what ????
December 31, 2016
I had a similar problem looking for a Persian cat online. The cat was supposedly free, but $300 for shipping. The site said they were in South Carolina but the phone number was in Maryland and the supposed breeder was in Dallas Texas. The photos looked too professional to be real. I'm glad I decided it was a scam. I did get a Himalayan from a local rescue group. If something about the ad sounds/looks suspicious, RUN THE OTHER WAY! The communication with this person was in odd-sounding English - another sign that something was wrong. Trust your instinct rather than fall in love with a `cyber pet'.
January 05, 2017
Yep, been scammed and am now very critical of all of them.
January 27, 2017
Has anyone had this issue in Washington State with a breeder who operates on Facebook and breeds mini dachshunds? My husband and I gave 2 large down payments but now that we are supposed to pick up the puppies tomorrow we cannot get a hold of her. The company name switched from Happy Paws Dachshunds to Seadachs Dachshunds and her name is Jamie Wing. We're getting concerned that she may be scamming us.
March 13, 2018

In reply to by joyseattle

Joy, What was the outcome? Please let me know. Thanks!

Elizabeth W
March 13, 2018

In reply to by joyseattle

Yes please get in touch with me through Facebook I've given her 1200 for a puppy 375 airfare. Now I having trouble with her. What kind of puppy was it. Mine was supposed to be a female long haired
February 20, 2019

In reply to by joyseattle

Did you ever get the puppy? Going through the same thing right now.
Almost got me too
January 30, 2017
We were in contact with a website allstarchihuahuas. com and ready to send the money. The lady at the money gram store asked us questions and we contacted the seller again. They would only take Money Gram or Western Union not Paypal or any credit card. At that point we told them we wouldn't be buying the puppy unless we could pay by credit card and they said they were having a problem with the system. I told them I would pay when they got it worked out. They had no timeline on. I went home and googled "dog breeders that only take Money gram" this is the site that came up. I did a backward search on the photo of the dog and testimonial person. They had more than one website selling the same dog same picture last year. The 2 sites I found are allstarchihuahuas. com and greenhillchuhuahuas. com this is a scam for sure. The name of the person I was to send the money to is Jamie Milles from Huston Texas. The other picture of the testimonial was stolen from a site in Canada.
January 28, 2017
Before purchasing a yorkie puppy i asked for pictures and videos. I was sent pictures but i didn't like them because they were too fancy, the puppy was always dressed up. Ii asked for additional pictures but this time with my name next to the puppy and they took a video instead. so i got to see the puppy running around and my name written on a piece of paper as requested. However something still doesn't feel right because the people i spoke with have an accent that I can just barely understand. I guess my question is do I have a reason to be extra nervous in expecting my new puppy tomorrow morning ?
January 30, 2017
Has anyone heard of All Star Chihuahuas out if Houston Texas. The name she had to send the money gram to was Jamie Milles. We didn't send it after all but it sure sound like a scam. The lady at the money gram warned us against it.
February 08, 2017

allstarchihuahuas. com is a SCAM! They have no address listed on their website and although they want to talk alot about themselves and show pics of themselves with their dogs, and they seem to be sweet ladies as the breeders......they dont ever state any of their names. They only accept western union and other types of "wire transfer"(i.e. quick money) and I happen to know that a dog like the one I saw on their site would not be sold as cheap as the offer. One last thing that seemed absolutely crazy, they advertised that they will ship WORLD WIDE and the fee is a flat $250, no matter where they are shipping and to top it off they have "coupons for free flight right now for dog". I mean really?? It's too bad some people really fall for this stuff. The phone number they listed that they text me back on was 512-361-6727 BEWARE

March 06, 2017
I almost fell for the scam from "Cute Dachshund Home" in Silver Springs, MD. They wanted $500 up front but couldn't prove that the had the dog. Their phone number is (240) 257-3754. A Caucasian woman has a voice mail on that number, but a Somali man does the selling. They have a fake website called www.cutedachshundhome
March 07, 2017
Sweet Teacup Yorkie, Pomeranian and Maltese puppies for free adoption. This is on FB and I will try to post some of his comments. Tells me he is a honest Christian and all I pay for this yorkshire teacup pup is 175.00 shipping. The fee is 175$ and I don't have a PayPal, he tells me. Now he tells me more that gets me wondering But I can assure you as a God fearing Christian and law abiding citizen of this great nation that you will receive the puppy at your doorstep once you send the money so that I'll use the money to get the puppy delivered to you at your doorstep, okay? Scam Scam Scam Then he becomes Super Puppy Deliverer, he says If you can send the 175$ before 2 pm, then the puppy will get to you before the end of today, okay? Right? He is getting desperate now. I have to get them new homes because my wife is due for March 20th and we won't have much attention for the puppies. So we have to get new homes for them where they will be loved and spoiled. So since I won't be able to pay much attention to the puppy, my wife and I decided to get new homes for them. So I assure you as a God fearing Christian and law abiding citizen of this great nation that you will receive the puppy if you can trust me and send me the money for the shipping, okay? I wish i could assure you more. He assured me he is a scammer. No more online pup search. People are really are frightening sometimes. BEWARE.
March 08, 2017

I almost fell for it until the lady at Western Union stopped me

I was sending $600 for a dachshund she said she was her next to me then the next hing was her daughter in Texas was in a fatal car accident an she was in a coma so we couldn't meet up so she was going to send him thru a agency "pet courier" so when I went to send the cash at Western Union the lady stopped me right away said it was a scam he said to send monthly pictures of the baby just mind blown my kids almost lost our be careful here are some numbers 1240-4732270 an 1385-240-5053 I also found a picture of the person on Google Oklahoma city police dog scam

March 09, 2017
Has anyone dealt with Steven Norman in Hinesville Georgia about purchasing a Yorkie. He wants me to use money gram and I'm scared of a scam! Any assistance would be great!
March 23, 2017
We, unfortunately didn't look up "scammers" on the web before just falling for this scam for a Labrador from San Antonio, Texas. Another, "Christian" person selling Labs & Golden Retrievers. They were selling them for a fair price and free shipping. Sent the money and then came the terribly fake letter asking for that same Now they don't respond either. RETRIEVER HUNTERS is the name, do not do business with them!!
March 27, 2017

In reply to by Oregon

Do you have the name and email address of these people? My daughter is "waiting" for a puppy from them...
March 24, 2017

SCAM: pattypomeranianhome. com, and other name is pattymicropoms. com. Also their so called shipping company, Continental Prime Logistics Pet delivery is a scam. We got scammed! We were stupid and not familiar with the scammer signs. Required western union and yes, shipping company tried to get 1895.00 more out of us for a climate control crate. When we refused to pay, they threatened us with having us arrested for animal cruelty and neglect! Ya right!! After a few choice words to all involved, we never heard from them again. The seller goes by the name of, at least this time, Douglas Renetta out of fairfax virginia. Phone number, 614-922-8945 and shipping number is 804-592-0149 . Now that I know how to check phone numbers, they come up with non fixed voip. Those are burner phones. When you purchase a burner phone, you can pick your own number, even if you are outside the USA, you can pick any number in the states you want.

March 30, 2017
i am tyring to get this puppy and they are telling me that i need to pay for shipping and i dont feel good about his what should i do
Cathy S Dachsh…
April 03, 2017
dachshund-pups. com /our exhibition This is another major breeder scam! I've been looking into them for about a day now and I've found some sketchy things. They are ripping off Paradise Dachshunds and if you go to paradises website and go to available puppies they'll Ben tell you about the scam. Their website looks very legit but the whole thing is a lie. Paradise told me when I contacted them that one woman payed 600 for a pup and it never came. And then the scammers asked for an additional 1300 for shipping, even though they told her there would be no shipping. DO NOT FALL FOR THESE PEOPLE. CATHY S DACHSHUND IS A SCAM!
April 06, 2017
There is a person on Craigslist selling Maltese puppy's two of the from PA they said there son had cancer and had died they r scammers please be careful there email is freebenet it's a scam
dog lover
May 23, 2017

In reply to by amanda

YES! They re-listed them but she is "in the military" and wants to ship them from VA using Amazon Payment which is no doubt an attempt to scam. If in fact it's the same person....
June 08, 2017

In reply to by dog lover

Yes! You are right! Im dealing with this person right now she told me $200 for each puppies. At the beginning I know its a scam but I like to play with her game. She only accept email because her phone dont store msgs. Hmmm! I emailed her and the name appeared is krishna kolawski. Try to search her name on google and you tube she's from Florida. She got promoted in the military and their unit will transfer to Maine that is why she need to dispose the dog by June 10. Her phone appeared as PA.
October 17, 2017

In reply to by hunter

She is still doing this and actually sending invoices as if it was really amazon. She’s using the name amber Jackson now.
January 16, 2020

In reply to by hunter

I was suppose to get two yorkies from her. She was suppose to be in the military and was based in Baltimore training to be shipped off to Maine. It was suppose to be free just pay shipping I told her I live in Baltimore and would pick it up she insisted a driver deliver them when I said I wanted to give her money when they came or send money when I seen them she asked for gift card as payment an eBay one then yelled it wasn’t about the money I just stopped replying
Glad I did a g…
November 27, 2017

In reply to by dog lover

“Amber Jackson” is still at it Maltese puppy Timbo & Mia. Same military story. There are some Really dishonest people out there!!!
April 17, 2017

My husband and I were scammed. We thought we were helping a rescued dog and sent 500 then the shippers wanted us to pay for a special carrier. It would be refunded and we electronically signed documents. Then this morning we were asked for more money before it finally dawned on us. Christineborrows           was the seller. The shippers were supposed to be from IATA which is a reputable company but things started falling into place when I started looking further. Don't buy puppies online!!!

April 17, 2017

I got scammed for a Teacup Yorkie. Don't buy any puppies from Mini T-Cup Yorkie Puppies ( minit-cupyorkie. us/puppies.    SCAM ALERT!

Sad Yorkie Girl
April 22, 2017
My husband and I have a Yorkie and decided to purchase another. Stay far, far away from Cachorros Yorkshire Terriers and Fly Pets Express. Their websites are professional, they give you a tracking number and everything. Two hours before my pup and crate rental deposit were to be returned I got an email from a fake government site in Kentucky (I lived there a long time). Not only doesn't the agency not exist but they claimed the puppy had to have vaccines and I needed to send $700 plus a $200 insulin shot to regulate metabolism and $200 boarding fee. Having already had two small puppies I know you would never give a puppy that age insulin nor do vaccines cost too much. I told them I was reporting them to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for consumer affairs. I got yet another fake email from a badly spelled site with a gmail address claiming to be a representative of the agency at 1:30 AM. I am heartbroken but plan to bug these people until I get a refund for a puppy that never existed.
FTC Staff
April 24, 2017

In reply to by Sad Yorkie Girl

You can report this to the FTC at The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

May 07, 2017
I'm just brought a dog from a cousin of mine an he told me that the paperwork was in the mail I'm just trying to figure out if its true or not before I give him the rest of my money
Elissa B.
May 10, 2017
My family and I were excited about purchasing an English bulldog puppy. The person we contacted went by the name of "Chris Graham" from Virginia and he claimed to be a dog breeder for many years. He asked us several questions before sending us the dog such as "Are you experienced with this particular breed? Do you have any pets at home?" etc. He also sent us pictures of the dogs and it's parents. The email was very convincing. We also talked to him on the phone and he sounded like a friendly man. What made it very sketchy though was when he asked for our credit card number or to pay $700 through Western Union. The man kept constantly contacting us about whether or not we paid. Before we paid, I looked up his email on the internet and many links popped up with the words "PUPPY SCAM" or "SCAMMER". That's when I knew it was a red flag. Several people were scammed by this person. Had the same email, same puppy photos and everything. The only difference was that he changed his name from Chris to Gabriel. He probably has multiple emails set. In the end, we didn't send the money. DONT PURCHASE BULLDOGS FROM CHRIS INFINITY BULLDOGS. ITS A SCAM! DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE PAYING AND BULLDOGS WILL NOT COME IN CHEAP. DONT PURCHASE A DOG THAT IS LOCATED SOMEWHERE FAR AWAY FROM YOU OR FROM THE INTERNET.
May 13, 2017
Philip Lucas just tried to sell me maltese puppies for free. I would only have to pay $180 for the delivery. I called the delivery service that would bring me my puppy and the man sounding exactly like the same person I was talking to, both being foreign. Please do not fall for this.
mel in iowa
August 20, 2017

In reply to by Enzo

Having same thing happen in Iowa. Have not sent any money but the same name and same puppies
May 23, 2017
Has anyone dealt with Evans huskies in fairfax, virginia Are they legit?
May 26, 2017
JOHNSON SHIH TZU FARM is a scam. I had searched for Shih Tzu's in Connecticut and got their website stating they are in Maryland. Next, I saw they had 5 females available. VERY unusual, females are harder to find than males. Next, looking at the photos, they were not all taken in the same place. Why not? Where did they come from? Then the price was unusually low, ($475 for one or $800 for two)supposedly they were 1/2 off as they had another litter due in a few weeks. free shipping too. I was beginning to get even more suspicious with their grammar so poor in the emails. Run on sentences, misspelled words, saying OK or okay every 10 words. The last red flag was when they wanted me to wire them money($250 deposit) using Western Union to hold the puppy as I was going to drive down in 2 days. When I asked them to call to make other arrangements as I could not get to a Western Union today they sent me a nasty email saying they wouldn't hold the puppy without the Western Union transfer. I stopped my communication there. Steer clear of these folks!!!
Bull dogger
June 23, 2017
I'm dealing w a guy who's claiming to have English bull dogs for super cheap his website is williamsenglishbulldogs. com His number is +1 (786) 284-5494 has any one dealt w this guy before. He seems to get upset when I ask for reassuring information. And he's from Miami
June 27, 2017

In reply to by Bull dogger

My husband was scammed by this same guy June 26, 2017.
July 06, 2017
I have a lady on joyful yorkies. She has a white yorkie with a white body and a little yorkie face absolutely adorable. With this one being so rare age only wants 500.00 and that includes the airfare. I just don't feel right about this. She wants me to go to a Walgreens western union today. Now I scared. What do you think?
July 11, 2017

In reply to by Conniebob123

Don't do it. We almost fell for the same trap. It was for a Cocker Spaniel, same story. They wanted a Walmart money gram. We backed out and discovered they were a scam. We will only buy a puppy now in person.
July 18, 2017
We just finished playing with a scammer. Rottweiler puppy out of montgomery, al. When I texted the idiot all of the sudden they relocated to texas because they saw I was in driving distance. $300 or $550 for two!!! Half before on itunes card and half of the rest after I recieved the puppy. Yeah right!!! So I played with the Nigerian for a few more hours before I shut him down. So tou are from montgomery, now in texas, but tou have an Atlanta extension. Wow.
July 18, 2017
Charged me 275 for a husky for my sons birthday and never got back with me. I am so angry.
Pug. Mom
July 21, 2017
I have never been scammed so. Much in my life.i just lost my pug and wanted another one. These creeps said they were cristian's also one had a pregnant wife the other had a wife that had lupus. It's sad that you cab't trust anyone. Certainy doesn't renew my faith in hummanity.
July 25, 2017
Hi My daughter and was recently scammed last week july 2017 for miniature daschund puppy. The website is presciousminidoxiepups. the phone number is 513-427-6023 on the website. they ask money to be sent walmart2walmart. I have notified the police in VA today and will not contact walmart money gram. The person says his name is Andre Peterson and the shipper keep asking for more money stating the puppy vaccine has expired before being able to be shipped. this is all new to us. We live in Ga.
almost scamed
July 31, 2017
I should be out $500 right now. But they just won't talk to me. kept saying I was getting free shipping that they had two coupons for the first two people. that made me think. how can I be one of the first two. then it was like pressure. I have you dog princess was her name Teacup yorkie. had lots of photos and even sent me a small video. here is the web site Beware I swear it has to be a scam. virginlandmicropuppies. com/ I found it searching for dogs in iowa. and they had like 7 locations so I thought I would pick her up . But no they are in TX. Humm strange. Scamers