Consumer Alert

Beware of Online Puppy Scams

The Consumer Protection Unit of the Alaska Attorney General's Office has received reports from Alaskans who thought they had found the perfect puppy online, only to find out they were victims of a scam and had been conned out of hundreds of dollars.

One variation of the online puppy scam involves an offer to give a pure-bred puppy away for free, as long as the recipient completes a money transfer to cover shipping costs. In another version, a scammer poses as a reputable breeder with a website that appears legitimate. The scammer insists on a deposit or full payment by money transfer before shipping the puppy. Both scams have the same outcome—after the money is transferred, the puppy does not arrive.

If you are searching online for a puppy, use caution to avoid becoming the victim of a scam.

  • If you find a dog breeder online be sure to personally speak to them over the phone or visit their kennel in person and check their references. Legitimate breeders will be willing to talk to you and answer your questions.
  • Never transfer money through Western Union, MoneyGram or other similar service to someone you don't know. Scammers often request this form of payment because once the money has been transferred it is difficult to trace and almost impossible to get back. For more information, see FTC Alert: Money Transfers Can Be Risky Business.
  • If an offer of a free purebred puppy sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will offer a "free" puppy then ask you to wire them money for shipping or veterinary costs, all of them bogus.
  • Don't be fooled by the quality of a website—many websites used in scams look professional.

If you think that someone is engaging in internet fraud report it to the Alaska Attorney General's Office and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Consumer Protection Unit
November 2010