08/09/2023: How to Spot and Avoid the “Puppy Mill Scam”
The digital age has brought with it a host of conveniences and advantages. However, it has also brought new methods for scammers to exploit unsuspecting individuals. One such scam, which has recently seen a sharp rise, is the “Puppy Mill Scam.” At R Bank, we have a commitment to cybersecurity and feel it is our duty to educate our customers and community about this scam to protect your finances.
Understanding the Puppy Mill Scam:
At its core, the Puppy Mill Scam is a deceptive tactic where fraudsters pretend to be legitimate dog breeders online. Capitalizing on the rising demand for puppies, these scammers post fictitious litters of puppies for sale, often stealing photos and descriptions from real breeders. The buyer, believing they’ve found their dream puppy, sends money to the ‘breeder’. However, after making the payment, they never receive the puppy or any further communication from the scammer.
Red Flags to Watch Out For:
- Too Good to Be True Prices: If a puppy, especially a popular or purebred breed, is priced suspiciously low, it may be a red flag. Always compare prices with other breeders.
- High-pressure Tactics: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, claiming multiple interested buyers or pushing for immediate payment.
- Lack of Communication: A genuine breeder will usually be passionate about their dogs and will be more than willing to answer any questions, provide pedigree information, and more. If the seller is evasive or only provides minimal information, proceed with caution.
- No Personal Visits Allowed: Reputable breeders often encourage potential buyers to visit and see the puppies in person. If a seller consistently makes excuses to prevent this, be wary.
- Generic Photos or Stolen Images: Use tools like Google’s reverse image search to see if a puppy’s photo appears elsewhere on the internet. Stolen or stock photos are a significant red flag.
Tips for Safely Finding a Breeder or Puppy Seller Online:
- Do Your Research: Before sending any money, research the breeder. Look for reviews, testimonials, and any potential red flags. It might also help to check with breed-specific clubs or associations.
- Ask for References: A genuine breeder will have past customers who can vouch for them. Don’t hesitate to reach out to these references and ask about their experience.
- Use Secure Payment Methods: Avoid wiring money or using payment apps that don’t offer buyer protection. Opt for more secure methods like credit cards or payment platforms that offer dispute resolutions.
- Insist on a Contract: A legitimate breeder will often have a contract that outlines the terms of the sale, guarantees, return policies, and other vital details. Make sure to read and understand the agreement before proceeding.
- Meet in Person: If possible, arrange to meet the breeder and the puppy in person before committing. This step can help you ascertain the legitimacy of the seller and the well-being of the puppy.
Steps to Take If You Suspect a Scam:
- Document Everything: Save all communication, including emails, texts, and any proof of payment. This documentation can be useful for reporting the scam and potential recovery efforts.
- Cease Communication: Once you’re sure it’s a scam, stop communicating with the fraudster.
- Report the Scam: Alert your local authorities and file a report. Additionally, report the scam to online platforms where the scammer was active, so they can take appropriate actions.
- Contact Your Bank: If you’ve made a payment, get in touch with your bank immediately. They may be able to guide you on potential ways to recover your money or put protective measures in place.
In conclusion, as the demand for puppies rises, so does the ingenuity of scammers looking to exploit potential buyers. Armed with knowledge and vigilance, you can ensure that your journey to find the perfect puppy remains a joyous one, free from deceit and disappointment. As always, we are here to support and guide our customers and community in all financial matters.
Information Security Officer | Corporate Security