How to spot a scam
1. Before you engage with anyone selling puppies on the internet, please be aware that your identity may be stolen. Scammers soon have all your personal details. They use it to create a false identity. They can scam someone else, and open accounts in your name. Feel free to make a few mistakes when giving them your personal information. You can correct it later once you are sure it's not a scam. NEVER send copies of your ID over the internet. You do NOT need to give your ID number in order to buy a puppy.
2. If a breeder has puppies, ask for a video call. Nursing mothers must not be disturbed, but if the puppies are 5 weeks or more, they should be running around. Get the breeder to point out the liveliest, healthiest one. See if the parents are in good condition. Be pleasant, but be persistent that you see the puppies and parents before you pay! The breeders on this website (petsplace.co.za) are NOT scams. They are screened by me. This is what you can expect from an honest breeder:
You order a puppy. The breeder tells you that transport is extra. The breeder makes all the arrangements for transport. The cost of transport and a crate is included in the amount you have to pay. You pay a deposit to secure a puppy. The balance is to be paid before the puppy leaves the breeder. Inoculations and microchip are included in the price. It can take weeks to register a puppy, so the breeder may post the certificate to you along with a vet's card to show what vaccinations the pup had, or if they get it in time, they may send it in the same crate as the pup. Puppies might not see a vet until they are 6 weeks old, so they won't have a vet's certificate till then. If you want a copy of the parents' registration certificates before you pay, the breeder can email it to you. You do not have to talk to transport companies. The breeder makes all arrangements. You already paid for transport.
That's a summary of what you can expect from the breeders on this site.
But if you intend to visit other websites, you may come across scams.
Here are some clues to look for if you think it might be a puppy scam.
Too many breeds to be true
www,emmakatpuppieshome,co,za is a typical example of a scam. They have lots of breeds available, but they couldn't all have had puppies same day. Another mistake emmakat makes is that they have copied text off other websites.
The "Contact" page may give you a red flag if you find only a form to fill up, and you cannot speak to the breeder. Always deal with the breeder direct - not an agent who is claiming to procure a puppy from a secret location, like Fairyland.
Write down all the numbers. They may say the cell belongs to a partner or employee (Why?) It could be a stolen phone.
Google the phone numbers. See if it has been used for other deals. If it is being used for lots of ads for all different breeds, be careful.
Who is the breeder? What is the breeder's name?
The breeder is the person who owns the dog who had the puppies. If you can't contact the breeder direct, something is wrong. Good breeders only sell to approved homes and they wouldn't give a litter to a business to sell. They want to know where their puppies are going. You need to know the full name. Good breeders give support to their customers for the rest of the dog's life. You need to be able to contact them for advice over any health issues in years to come.
If it's a scam, the person you are dealing with is probably not a breeder, but is pretending to be an agent Let's call her a suspect. Here are some things to find out:
What is the suspect's address?
Before you can ask where the suspect is, she has already found out where YOU are if you filled up a form. She then invents an adddress in a town far away from you in case you come to her house and see that she has no dogs. Scammers can easily copy a name and address from the internet. Ask if a friend can drop by. Of course, if you have already paid, they won't stop you travelling to this false address.
What does the suspect sound like?
Don't do business by forms, emails, and text only. But most of the engagements should be in writing so you have a record of what was agreed eg price & cost of transport. Be suspicious if the suspect is always out and you have to speak to someone else. Folk can change their name but not their voice.
What does the suspect look like?
You can chat face to face by video on facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. in real time. Ask to see the puppies' parents. If the pups are ready to go, the suspect must show you the puppies.
Those photos of sweet puppies melt your heart! But they may be PhotoShopped. Right click on the photos to see if they appear on other sites. Check Google images, and Bing. Or they may have got them from a breeder by pretending to want to buy a puppy. Do get a new photo with today's date on it for your baby's photo album. You'll be surprised how quickly puppies grow! Even one day makes a difference.
Have a face-to-face video call with the suspect to see your puppy's siblings and parents. It's the new nomal to video call instead of travelling to see puppies. If they DO show you the litter, then it's probably not a scam at all! It's delightful to see a whole litter at play. Pick the most active one - you can't tell by a photo. Only a video call can tell. Please note - the video is only effective if the puppies are ready to go - the same puppies as in the photos you were shown on the website. It's no good watching a video of newborns - one can't tell what they will be like when they are grown.
Lies about a vet
If you think it's a scam and they say the puppy has been innoculated, you can ask to see the vet's certificate - both sides - so you can see the name and adddress of the vet, and date of innoculations. The scammer may mention an airport vet. Vets don't have a practice at an airport.
The sick puppy scam
Scammers may say the puppy is ill and they have no money for the vet. Don't fall for it! The breeder must pay the vet and only sell healthy puppies. They are playing on your emotions.
Border fees scam
Sometimes the puppy is free, or cheap, and you just have to pay for transport. The seller says he has had to go to another country on business and had to take the puppy with him as it's too young to leave. Lies! The transport costs start rising!
Scammers may claim the puppy is detained at the border. They need clearance money. Ignore it.
Lies about registration
Ask if the puppy is registered. If they say, "Yes," ask WITH WHO is it registered? If it's registered with ABYZ, look up those initials. What do they stand for? If you think it's a scam, insist on seeing the parents' registration certificates. If they brush aside your request, it is most certainly a scam. Give them one day to send you copies. They can wait for their money. The breeder's name should be on the mother's certificate. They may say they send the papers after people have paid. That's no use if it's a scam!
If they say the puppy is NOT registered, then you shouldn't have to pay thousands of Rands for it. There is no proof that the dog is pure-bred.
Fake testimonials & references
Scamsters can easily get another member of the scam ring to pretend to be a satisfied customer. They can get photos off another website.
NB, I'd be happy to give a reference for the breeders listed on petsplace.co.za.
Fraudulent bank accounts
Scammers use stolen bank cards, stolen cell phones, stolen ID books, and false names. They change their name frequently. Google their bank a/c to see if it appears in other ads. When adding a beneficiary on internet banking, make use of any button the bank provides to check the name of the account holder against the account number. Write down the name and account number. If it's not in the scammer's name she may say that the a/c is in her partner or accountant's name. Take note of this red flag! Be suspicious if the a/c is in someone else's name. It may be a stolen a/c. If you decide to pay, take note of the time and date of payment so the bank can trace it fast.
Scammers play on people's fears and ignorance by the mention of the virus. If they say you must pay for a Covid compliance permit, or a Covid crate, there is no such thing. They may mention a website that issues a fake permit - megaportlogistics - beware - it's a malware site. Do not visit it or your computer will be infected with a virus. Dogs do not transmit or suffer from Corona Virus.
When the suspect sees that you are suspicious, she may protest that they are a honest, upstanding, "God-fearing" family. They may send a copy of their ID without your asking for it, which is a scammers' ploy to fool you. The ID is stolen. If you are in doubt, quickly stop any payment you made to give yourself time to think. Do NOT select "Immediate Payment." Try to make your payment future-dated to give yourself time to cancel it. If possible, transfer the money from a bank that is different from the suspect's as this can take a few days. Once you've paid, the scammer may play for time to make sure the money is in his account, and that he can withdraw it and money-launder it. He doesn't want you phoning the bank just yet. He needs time to take down his advert, which might be on several free classified sites, so he will tell you there is a problem with transport, or something. If he changes the delivery date, STOP PAYMENT and see what happens. Speed is essential to stop payment. You must act fast!
Non-existent Transport Companies
Scammers invent names of pet transport companies and may ask you to pay the transport company direct. The "Transport Company" might be the scammer himself using a different name, or another member of the same puppy scam ring.
They may ask you for another large sum for an air-conditioned, electronic, covid-compliant crate, more vaccine, a Covid Legal Control Permit, or something, which they say they will refund after delivery. Hmmm.... Really? There is no such requirement. They just want your bank details.
If you send your banking details, don't send your PIN too! they will empty your account. NEVER send copies of your ID and driving licence over the internet. They will use it to impersonate you.