Scam Alert: 80% of Online Puppy Ads Are Fraud

Corgi puppy Getty Images/Moment RF

If you’re looking to add a cute puppy to your family, beware of online scams.

An alarming 80 percent of online ads for puppies are fraudulent, according to a new study released by the Better Business Bureau. Experts say that even with a very careful online search, coming across a bogus ad is very likely.

The report states that there are thousands of victims around the United States – and the world – who have been bilked of hundreds to thousands of dollars after succumbing to the prey of online puppy scams.

The study shows that teenagers and young adults are targeted in unusually high numbers, and their dependence on technology may be to blame.

Fraudulent postings often begin with a fake web site showcasing stolen photos from a legitimate site. While some scammers may offer "free" puppies, others offer puppies at extremely discounted prices to attract buyers. 

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After grabbing the interest of an unsuspecting victim, the greedy "seller" demands payments from their prey until they finally become suspicious after wiring money through Western Union or MoneyGram services to Camerroon in West Africa.

To avoid falling victim to an online puppy scam, experts say following these 5 tips:

- Avoid puppy mills - Never buy a pet without seeing it in person. - Never pay a stranger with a money order or through a wire transfer service - Never use cash. Always pay with a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges - Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are interested in. If the same picture appears on several sites, you may be dealing with fraud.