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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.

FTC Staff
July 31, 2017

In reply to by almost scamed

You can help law enforcement by reporting 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.

August 16, 2017
My mother is buying a puppy ($600 Teacup Pomeranian) but she refuses to tell me where she found the listing so I can't see any information about the seller. I'd reverse image search the starting picture but cant since she tells no listing. It's pretty sketchy because the seller has sent no pictures of the puppy from what my mother says, but she INSISTS its real. I hope she gets scammed just so I can say I told you so.
Old lady in Colorado
August 23, 2017

I got scammed for $550 for a Havanese puppy. Would only take Money Gram or Western Union. Person in VA. Site is healthyhavanese. com. Next day said pup was at airport, but they needed another $970 for shipping insurance. Both men had heavy Indian accent. I went to get the Money Gram and clerk had to get manager's signature. He helped me only to find it's a scam. Puppy was 50% off, plus free shipping because he had 3 free coupons left. I refused to send the $970 and both breeder and shipper called. It sounded like the same man. LAURENT Garlan was name in Norfolk, VA. Then I researched and found another breeder was the same, a scam. I'm still out $550, but lesson learned. The dog was to be a service dog for a kid with Autism. Be careful, it's a big scam.

so close
August 23, 2017
Thank you for having this page with all of the warning signs to look for. I just almost got ripped off big time. I asked all the questions that you said to and I found out that it was a scam. Glad I didn't lose my money. DO NOT PAY THROUGH WESTERN UNION OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. TRUST NO ONE. Miniature Dachshund Home is a scam. miniaturedachundhome @ DON'T DO IT.
August 23, 2017
Tcupchihuahuahomes. com is a scam website. Stay away. Seems legit until you dig a little deeper and start poking holes into them. The whole I'm a Christian and how could you question me routine. All anyone has to do is ask for a photo of the dog with their name written on a piece of paper in the picture or even a date. It will let you know if the dog is even real right from the get go.
Dog lover
September 11, 2017
We almost got scammed by AMARZON PUPPIES YES, NOT AMAZON. I found the whole thing too easy and decided investigate, that's when I saw this page and followed all procedures, including being upfront about not doing money order or WU.asked my questions, address, name, dog papers and they had the audacity to reply saying they were honest, however they never gave the info requested, which confirmed it was a scam! I said to them my father was a Police Officer and it was normal for him to behave like that. Guess what! They never contacted me again! I can't believe people would stoop so low!!! disgusting!
September 30, 2017
It is one of those plz check cause they are selling a husky for 300 and 100 more for the shipping
October 18, 2017
Do not try to buy a puppy from www. truebuy. com. au or www. dogthelove. com or the Facebook page h facebook. com/ Dogs- and- Puppies- for- Sale- in- Australia- These are the same scammers. They will press hard to get you to transfer money and then request more for insurance but only after you truly believe the puppy is yours. Most pups are $400-$600 making them more affordable that going through breeders. However, there are no pups.Please beware.
October 17, 2017
I recently found an add for a Maltese puppy for sale only $280 and it was just in the city over to where I live, and I thought well maybe it’s legit cus I’d actually be able to go have a look, pick up the fur baby if I decide to buy and drop off the money they are asking for once. So I emailed the seller and the seller asked me a few question like my environment, why I’m looking for a puppy, have I had any pets before, stuff like that. Then went on about saying how the dogs belonged to his song that just passed away from cancer. I sent them my condolences in the next email and answered their questions only to find out on their next reply that they “just moved” and it’s 16 hours away from where I live now and no only did they mention they’d ship the puppy to me but now it’s free and all I have to do it pay for change of ownership and send pictures every month because they want to see their progress. Now only thing I’ve done was assured I will, without actually sending my address or money. But it already seems sketchy to me. I figured I’d just go along to see how far they go or if any of the story changes. But does it sound like a scam to anyone else but me?????
December 26, 2019

In reply to by Madthfc

Yes it is a scam. Just had same scenerio. It was for Yorkie. They just happened to move to Alexandria Virginia from Raleigh NC and their son passed away too.
November 09, 2017
Scammer phone number ---> 213-349-0290 They use it for Maltese so far and are on multiple sites.
November 11, 2017
Just today I’m dealing with an Amber Jackson, she’s selling two Maltese puppies for $200 each. She emailed me an invoice from Amazon telling me I had to buy two gift cards each for $100. I called Amazon and they immediately told me that it was a scam. Be Alert I almost fell for it.
November 30, 2017
I had something like this happened to me, but I did my research before I sent the money. A couple weeks ago I had posted on FB looking for a teacup yorkie for my little girl. A page named "teacup yorkies" messaged me and said they had puppies for $500. Whenever I asked for more personal info the person blew up on me and that was all over. Just lastnight I recieved an email back from a seller I had emailed off of craigslist. They told me they woukd give me the puppy because it was her sons who just passed away to cancer. She sent me a video of the puppy, and I was quick to realize that the persons voice in the video I recieved in my email was the same voice on the FB page I had messaged the week before. This scammer said they where for Pensacola FL and since I lived so far away, they would just ship me the pup. I did my research on the name that was on the email (Christine Lokkenankta) and realized that this named had popped up ALOT for scamming people! It is so sad that some body would use the death of someone as a joke! Watch out!
December 15, 2017
Instead of having to worry if you are being scammed out of your hard earned money: NEVER buy a puppy unless you can see it/pick it up in person. You should be able to see at least one parent and exactly what conditions the puppy was raised in. There is another, more important reason than money though: when you buy a puppy sight unseen, sometimes you MAY actually get a puppy, but the puppy very often is from a puppy mill! Ever see a puppy mill? If you haven't, go to YouTube and enter "puppy mill." If you love animals (and I assume you do) I guarantee that you will see some of the most sickening things you have ever seen in your life! When you buy an animal online & have it shipped, you are taking a chance of: 1. Losing your money or, 2. Buying from a puppy mill, and 3. Getting a sickly, inferior pet (which at the very least will cost you vet bills OR might just die)4. Perpetuating the suffering of the dogs kept in puppy mills...because they are bred over and over and over again with no veteranry care (until they die) with minimal or low quality food, in the most unbelievably filthy, cramped conditions! Finally, Google "how to find a responsible breeder." Both AKC and the Humane Society have excellent information on how to do this.
January 11, 2018
Goldenparadiseyorkies! The only payment they take is western union/moneygram. Stay away. If there were legitimate, they would have Paypal.
Almost Scammed
February 12, 2018

cesercaranzza @ gmail. com This email is also a scam. I realised myself as it all seemed a bit too fishy! The so called Breeder is Justin Moya and he would have scammed me had I not had a gut feeling about it and researched into it. He says he lives in Perth Australia and puppy is $380 plus shipment. I hope they don’t scam anyone. I will be buying locally and viewing my puppy!

February 12, 2018

Super havanese out of Norfolk VA is still doing the same scam. Cheap puppies with fight coupons so no shipping costs, WalMart to WalMart payment. WM saved the day as they have the Breeder name and address flagged for fraud.

February 12, 2018
I wanna know if this guys is scamming me, so I'll paste his reply here and please let me know if he is: I'm working for my elder brother,he says You'll go to the money gram store and make a deposit of at least $250,when you deposit,you'll be issued a receipt with a reference number on it,you'll take a picture of the receipt while covering the reference number and send to me and when you confirm the puppy and all its documents,you'll release the reference with my balance.Once you send the pic,I'll immediately proceed with the transfer of ownership document.The need covering the reference number is the restrict pickup(buyers security) That money would act as assurance that you'll come for the the dog.Can only be picked when you come to collect your dog and provide the reference number.
FTC Staff
February 12, 2018

In reply to by natashasomo

He's telling you to send him $250 by wire transfer before you get anything. That's usually a sign of a scam.

Was I being scammed?
February 15, 2018
Can this go the other way? My dog had a litter of puppies that I put up for sale on, and I got a series of texts from someone saying they were interested in buying one of the little female pups. First they wanted parent photos, which I was happy to provide, then they wanted a video, then they wanted a photo of the puppy with their name and todays date on a sheet of paper held next to the puppy. They claimed it was supposed to be a gift for their daughter, but when I asked them to please pay for the puppy first or at least make a deposit, they flatly refused. I just didn't feel comfortable implying this little girl belonged to someone when I couldn't tel if they were just using the photos and info to create a false puppy ad or something? I was as nice as can be and explained my hesitation, but they stopped texting me completely when I explained my discomfort with the situation. Does this happen a lot? Is this how people create false puppy listings???
February 23, 2018
Morristown AZ Inquired about a Yorkie. They only take Moneygram and when I offered to pick the dog up......they stopped emailing me. They offer ground transportation for 100.00... stating independent trucking services do deliveries.
Dog lover 00007
February 23, 2018

Mia and timbos scanner new name is Kristen Scott *** Hello, Thanks for the interest you have for my puppies. I have a male called Timbo and female called Mia, both pure breed Maltese, they are 12 weeks old, vet checked, registered, well trained(potty trained) and have been well socialized and love the company of kids and other animals. They are very healthy, and have all their complete documents. I am selling because I am in the military, I was promoted and my unit will be sent in Maine. The price is low ($200 each) because I must find a loving family, before February 26. All i really want is for the puppies to move into a nice and caring home.

Kenny B
February 26, 2018
I'm sure I contacted a scammer yesterday. He had an ad on Craigslist for French Bulldogs. Looked like a local add. Contacted him and he wants $300 for dog and shipping included. He says he is in Colorado. I'm not contacting him anymore as I am sure it is a scam. He uses Kenny Bines in his emails.
March 08, 2018
Teacup Chihuahua Puppies for sale On Facebook is a scam. They ask you to send a deposit of $300 through Wal-Mart to Chris Williams. Please don’t make the same mistake I did.
March 25, 2018
I was just scammed from Russia ! The breeder site looked really good, but the lady who was to bring the pup to the USA has bogus info on flights, the airline said there is no one listed on the flight by her name. High emotions caused this to happen, as our dog died this month & my husband has the beginnings of Dementia and I wanted this for him,
Sorry re your spouse
June 06, 2018

In reply to by ctc

It’s too bad scumbags take advantage of anyone, let alone someone trying to do something kind & loving for a sick spouse. I hope you find a pup & enjoy quality time w your spouse.
March 25, 2018
Recently, I tired to purchase a pet from an individual on a puppy site. Long story short, I asked them to call and the response was well I am driving and am in the interior??? That keyed me in as I am a retired servicemen who spent time in Panama and the only folks who use the word interior are those in South America, Africa. Us folks here live in the middle of the state. It turned out a scam of course. I tried again and they wanted Western Union payment but I asked what airline they would be using. They said Canadian, AUstralian, British, etc..none of those fly to the airport I use. Oh well but I really want a Fawn Male Pug. Anyone know anybody. Thanks
Dog gone it
March 30, 2018
I was inquiring about a French bulldog puppy and was told to go to Walmart or western union into transfer $600 and they get coupons for free shipping and then some one would deliver the puppy to my house for a extra $50. When I told them that I would feel better dealing thru PayPal they said if they used PayPal then I would have to pay extra $400 for shipping that they could not use the coupons for the free shipping, so I said that I would pay the extra $400 for shipping thru PayPal and they should set up a pay pal account so we could continue with the transaction of buying the puppy. I have not received another email back..please be aware of this scam they also said they were selling the puppies because their daughter had been in a bad accident and could not care for the puppies that is why they were selling them to loving homes. The name that was sent to me was Robert Bohan from Oklahoma City Oklahoma so beware of sending anyone money thru Walmart or western Union because there is no way to track it.
cms - Lokken A…
May 25, 2018

Looking for a corgi puppy and found ad on Craigslist for a small male puppy that someone needed to re-home. Got an email response from Lokken Anita Christine - email address lokkenanta. c@ - replying about two puppies (brother and sister) she would "give" to loving home. English in email was a bit off and the dogs images can be found all over the internet (used the reverse look-up). BEWARE! Email: Thanks for the interest in regards to the puppies I have for adoption. There are 2 of them 1 female (Suzzy) and 1 male (Barley) and are brothers and sisters Corgi Puppies. They are 11 weeks old, vet checked and will come with all papers needed. The puppies are very playful and are all of absolute temperament as they also love playing with kids and other household animals. Attached to this mail are videos of the puppies. We are giving the pups out for for adoption because we just relocate to a non pets apartment and we can't keep them any longer. I will be very willing to give you these pups if you can promise me of never to sell them because they have been like kids to us, also do get back to me with the answers of our question below so i can have an idea of where our puppies will be going to. -Have you own a pet before? - Do you have a vet doctor? -where precisely are you locate - Are you a breeder? - Will you be taking the male Barley and Suzzy or both? - Give me a Brief Description about your Environment? All i need is just a very caring and loving home for our babies where they will be well loved and spoiled. Thanks and will be Happy to read from you again. Regards.

tried to scam me too
May 24, 2019

In reply to by cms - Lokken A…

Craigslist also but yorkies. Craigslist “e-mail “ was brown daniel.ler9187@ . Reply email micheal herry22 A Beware scam!! Used word for word same as this post above...barley & Suzzy brother and sister
April 05, 2019

In reply to by cms - Lokken A…

I just fell for this! I succumbed to searching Craig’s list tonight, sent a few messages, fell asleep, and woke up to this wonderful email. The name even sounded familiar to me. I responded but then tried to search and got some weird responses to my search for the email address. I searched the text, and I got this! Same email, different breeds, different dog names. I gave my phone number! But luckily I didn’t go so far as to give address. Will not be answering any calls tomorrow!
May 07, 2019

In reply to by cms - Lokken A…

I gave all the information including my address and phone name. I trusted him. I have his phone number... 252-655-2412. Can he do anything with my information? I didn’t send money.
Portland, OR s…
October 08, 2020

In reply to by cms - Lokken A…

Same song and dance with the corgi's . . . Brother and sister named Sasha and Ed the seller is using multiple craigslist accounts posted in Portland, OR but say they live in Norfolk, VA same email requesting info and willing to give the puppy's away to loving home. The email is under Jackiebrown
May 11, 2018
If people would get in touch with the AKC, they have a list of parent clubs for each breed - those clubs have a list of legitimate breeders. Pound puppies are all well and good, but you don't know what temoerament, size, or health you are getting - not all dogs fit all families!
Logan's mom
June 13, 2018
I have been offered a yorkie pup for free. Just pay shipping.Supposedly from Maryland. Lady said shejust moved there. Pups were a birthday pesent and new location won't allow pets. Now a company sent me an email and calles me wanting 320 for shipping to get underway. Western Union only. Asked why to a specific persons name and told can not deposit to company name if less than 2000. Got videos, never a call as I have asked, e-mail only. Name on e-mail is Melanie Pincha and e-mail is kendrickrick250 @ Anyone heard of these people or this person. I could use any help. If you would like to discuss personally, let me know.Thank you in advance.
FTC Staff
June 13, 2018

In reply to by Logan's mom

Read the tips at the top of this blog post.

To start: 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.

June 21, 2018

In reply to by Logan's mom

I googled this email address and your comment popped up. This just happened to me right now and same story, same everything. She even asked a few questions. I'm from Tampa and was looking for a puppy. I didn't go further once she mentioned the shipping part.
Yorkie Mom
February 24, 2019

In reply to by Logan's mom

I received the same information from an Elizabeth Stinbon except it was 2 yorkie pups and they moved to Virginia. Irritating as all get out
April 23, 2019

In reply to by Logan's mom

Got scammed by these people too excite I believed them. They had their very own shipping site and gave me a tracking number where I was following the “puppy” while she was on the plane. The puppy had a connecting flight in Kentucky and wasn’t leaving until I pay the insurance fee apparently. So I called the airport only to find out that let’s dont get shipped like that. I spent 1800 but got 800 back. Filed a police report, and sent complaints to the FTC and other scam reports on with all the info I had. DONT TRUST THESE PEOPLE.
June 22, 2018
Found something similar.. said it was okay for pick up but then when I inquired about it, they insisted on free shipping same day. Anything from the email address jasmine. melanie. jose or from the person Gregor Ablemarle in Harrisburg, PA or from the phone number (717) 229-6375 is a scam and they had the audacity to tell me it's all my fault a puppy wouldn't get a good home because I would not transfer them the money when I said I would pick the puppy up and pay cash. CRAZY. People are disgusting. Watch for typos and overly specific payment methods with things like moneygram.
Martha B
June 30, 2018
I was lucky enough to do some research before I got scammed by a guy who said he wanted to re-home his doxie puppies to a loving family. I had contacted him earlier in the week from an add he had posted on Craigslist. I did not hear from him for over 4 days. In the ad he said the puppies were 11 weeks old, had their shots, ect., but did say something strange by saying their tails were docked. Doxies don't get their tails docked and I asked him that. He did not answer the question. First flag. He then sent an email asking me questions to see if I would be the best home for the puppies. He sent me 16 photos of the dogs. Mind you, it is the end of June and the puppies are decorated like it was Christmas time. I asked him about that--2nd flag--and he said that you have to make the puppies comfortable when taking their photos. He then said I would be the best match for the puppies and he just moved 2 days ago to Houston and I would have to pay for their shipping, etc. 3rd Flag! Now if he moved just 2 days ago and I had sent him a message 4 days ago, why didn't he contact me sooner. Plus, his emails were written by someone whose first language is not English. He gave me an address in Houston which I googled and it was not an apartment like he said. I am so glad that I did not "buy" into his scam and send him any type of money. To top it off, he kept using the "good Christian" type of story. What a loser and I am so glad that I was not scammed.
July 11, 2018
My sister contacted this person off of Facebook, for a Pomeranian puppy for our mother. They sent a video and said they deliver the puppy to our door step from the airport and that it will arrive @ 6. They sent her a ‘contract’ stating that the buyer is too take care of the puppy and if we were able to care for it or were planning on selling it again we had to contact the breeder right away to give them an opportunity to buy the puppy back.. the contract also stated that the puppy was only $250.00. But they got $500.00 out of my sister. So around 4 o’clock they contacted my sister saying they need $2,400.00 by the end of the day.. my sister was then confused. She proceeded to ask why, they said to cover the shipping cost and to insure that we were capable to care for a dog for a year. & that the money would be refunded to her at her door step along with the dog! She then caught on and said she didn’t couldn’t take the dog anymore and they said if you don’t take the dog and you don’t send the money we will sue you for animal neglect. WATCH OUT FOR A MICHAEL.. he says he @ Long hill dr, in Los Angeles, CA ... << not a real address.
July 25, 2018
Almost got scammed for $700 today! By this person: Receivers Names: Jajuan Costner State North Carolina City: Charlotte Zip Code: 28201 Send $700 by: Western Union or MoneyGram Their phone number is ‭(702) 518-0358‬ BEWARE
August 20, 2018
Thank you!!!! You just saved me a big headache and heart ache. Certain I was just about to become their next victim
August 21, 2018
I got scammed for 1000 by John Warwick for two pug puppies same story shipper next day called said they needed 950 for insurance shipping I said no they too said taking pups to shelter this John Warwick 6 months later must have forgotten he'd scammed me sent me email saying selling cannibis oils why can't money gram see who picks up this monies and help people get money back and these people put in jail I even had one guy say he fell asleep over his keyboard duh now I know he was most likely sitting in room with other all scamming people
FTC Staff
August 21, 2018

In reply to by Maria7980

If you see a scam, you can call the MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400. You can also report a scam to the FTC at The information you give will go 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.

August 28, 2018
Has anyone heard of Valid Pugs?
September 06, 2018
Looking for tiny yorkie in southeast ga..any one ever heard of Carteryorkies or Harrington yorkies( savannah) lots of family photos on both sites ,testimonials etc..Carter yorkies says shes a breeder for over 40 years..Harrinton wants $200 cash to hold..wont send any akc papers until buyer sends proof of spay/ neuter.Im asduming rest of payment is cash as well..just wonderimg if anyone has been scammed by either of thrse breeders b4 I proceed farther..
October 01, 2018
Does anyone know about a place called Sherrys Samoyeds in Indiana? I found her ad she said there were three puppies left. I have messaged her three or four times and no response. Is this a scam? I have encountered over 40 scams on Samoyed puppies from one puppy ad place to three others they all have scammers.
October 01, 2018
Adopt from your local animal shelter, this is prevent online scam and you truly save a life.