How to Protect Yourself From Fraudulent Puppy Sales in South Africa 

Swindles committed against people who want to own pets and who believe they are purchasing animals online are far more common than any of us would like to acknowledge. Love can blind you and make you believe that you are purchasing a genuine puppy from a reputable breeder, but there are heartless and merciless people that exist who are cashing in on the good intentions of animal lovers.

How the Puppy Mills Defraud People

Scammers prey on individuals who want to purchase puppies online because they share certain characteristics, including the following:

  • Customers who favor the ease of being able to pick out a lovable puppy online and have it brought to their front door as their purchase.
  • They enjoy the feeling of “instant gratification” that comes with receiving their purchase right away.
  • They put a lot of stock in things that they find on the internet.

Find a Puppy on the Internet

Prospective puppy buyers will use Google to research where they can buy the breed they are interested in. They will use search terms such as “labrador puppies for sale South Africa,” “female Yorkie puppy for sale,” or “French bulldog puppy for sale.” As a consequence of Google’s use of algorithms and the scammers’ comprehension of search engine optimization, fraudulent webpages will rank in search results, even in Google Ads.

Con artists will indeed pay for Google Ads just to make themselves look more legitimate so they can con more victims. When prospective purchaser of a puppy clicks on the website, they are frequently presented with a comprehensive list of the various breeds of puppies that the vendor ‘has available.’ It’s a great time saver!

Establishing Communication With the Vendor (Scammer)

Following the buyer’s expression of interest in a specific puppy, the seller and buyer move the conversation to WhatsApp. The con artist will send photographs and/or video content of the puppy, and it will even have a name, all to make the transaction appear more credible and to pull at the victim’s heartstrings even more strongly.

The con artist will first ask the customer where they are situated, and then they will claim that their “kennels” are located a huge distance from the customer. Because the buyer is unable to see the puppy in person before making their purchase, it is unavoidable that they will be required to hire a courier to deliver the puppy to them. In these kinds of scenarios, the use of the courier is just another form of fraudulent activity.

Making Payment

At this point, the con artist will request payment via electronic funds transfer (EFT), and they will demand that the funds be released instantaneously so they can transfer the puppy “tomorrow.” As soon as the customer makes a payment to the con artist, the so-called “courier company” demands an additional payment from the buyer (typically in the area of R13,000) to send the puppy in a specialized “electronic crate” that maintains a consistent temperature. The buyer is promised a refund of this amount upon delivery of the puppy.

The Point Where There is No Going Back

It is typically at this point that the buyer will declare that the price is unreasonable, at which point they will ask for their money back. Either the con artists will fabricate a story in a desperate effort to convince the customer to make a substantial additional payment, or they’ll stop responding to the buyer on WhatsApp and then block them. Some prospective customers are willing to pay the exorbitant cost of the courier service in the hope of getting their puppy the following day and getting their money back for the expensive electronic temperature-regulating crate.

The following day comes and there is still no sign of the puppy. Their frantic calls and WhatsApp messages are not being returned. The game is over when the buyer gets a bad sense in their gut and conducts a search on Google or Facebook for puppy scams, at which point they realize that they have been taken advantage of.

How to Spot a Con Involving Puppies

Now that you understand how puppy scams operate, the most effective way to protect yourself from being conned out of your money for a pet that does not exist is to be able to spot con artists’ tricks when you encounter them.

On the website owned by the con artist, the name of the alleged breeder includes the words ‘puppy,’ ‘home,’ ‘adorable,’ or other words with a similar emotional tone, which are designed to play on your desire to own a cute puppy. Reputable dog breeders who are registered with the KUSA do not advertise their puppies; instead, they focus on showcasing the breed in which they specialize. In addition to that, they rarely have puppies for sale. The website features a wide variety of canine breeds, all of which, astonishingly, is advertising the availability of puppies at the same precise moment.

Credible dog breeders who are also registered with the KUSA will have waiting lists of prospective owners that they have thoroughly investigated and selected by hand. They rarely have puppies available for sale to anyone who just walked in off the street through the internet. You’ll need to submit to a home inspection and get on a waitlist if you’d like a healthy pure-breed puppy. Puppies of this kind are in high demand.

There is nothing like a “teacup Yorkie” or any other breed that is classified as a “teacup.” If these puppies do exist, there is a good chance that they are unhealthy or that they are the runts of the litter and have bad genetics. This can cost owners a significant amount of money in veterinary bills and even result in the premature death of the puppy. Do not give in to the power that your feelings have over you.

Someone trying to pull a fast one on you might send you the puppy’s registration papers. These are likely fakes. Contacting the Kennel Union of South Africa (KUSA) to verify any registration information that has been provided to you is your best option at this point.

The con artist may try to convince you that they are legitimate by sending you a photo of their identification. Using identity theft as a means to further their scam, they are almost certainly sending you the identification information of someone else who has already been duped by them. Never give them your personal identification information because it may be utilized to scam someone else in the future. On WhatsApp, the con artist may send you pictures and videos of “your puppy,” but they will not engage in a video chat with you, claiming that they have a poor signal, very little data, or another excuse.

A good breeder who is concerned about the wellbeing of their offspring will never sell a puppy to an individual who has not personally observed the breeder’s litter or who has not articulated an intrigue in the breed for the appropriate factors.

The con artist does not care if YOU are a suitable fit for the puppy; they show no concern for the puppy’s future health in your household; whether you recognize the personality characteristics, workout and training needs, and grooming needs of the breed; and if you introducing the puppy to a household with multiple pets and whether all of the pets will get along with each other.

They won’t give you any recommendations on the kind of dog food that is going to be most beneficial to the growth of the puppy. They treat the puppies as if they were commodities and “sell” them to make a profit. The same rules apply to people who breed animals in their backyards or puppy mills.

A breeder with a good reputation strives to improve the breed’s lineage, remove health issues from the gene pool, and provide outstanding care for their dogs and puppies. They would never advertise their puppies to individuals who do not place a high priority on the health and well-being of their puppies over the long term. You will be allowed to meet both the puppies and their parents, observe them, and get to know them while you wait for the puppies to be old enough to go home with you. Because the health of the puppy throughout its entire life is at stake, the selection procedure will be very stringent.

Con artists sell so-called “cheap” puppies to unexpecting animal lovers who merely need a family pet to make a quick profit off of them. Since the goal of backyard breeders is to make money rather than to care for animals, they will sell you that inexpensive puppy without paying any attention to the health of their puppies or the welfare of their breeding stock.

Those who are passionate about a particular breed will go to extremes to ensure that their champion dogs are healthy and happy. They conduct DNA testing and health screening to ensure that their prospective pups are healthy and strong and that they do not carry genetic disorders. This is done to broaden the genetic pool to reduce the number of health problems that are associated with the breed. They do not breed for size but rather for personality and function, which is why there are no “teacup” breeds. This kind of endeavor costs an outrageous amount of money, which is why pure-breed puppies are so expensive; however, customers will receive what they pay for because these puppies are of the highest quality.