DeWine: Scammers posing as puppy breeders online

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has a warning for people buying pets as Christmas gifts. DeWine said in 2015, his office received about 30 complaints from Ohioans who said they purchased a dog or other pet online, but never received anything in return. People reported losing an average of $1,200.

“Scammers go online, post cute pictures of a puppy, and get you to feel connected to the dog, even though it’s all a scam,” Attorney General DeWine stated in a news release. “I would encourage anyone to ask to see the dog in person before making any payments.”

The typical puppy con artist uses websites such as Craigslist. Once the buyer contacts the seller and reaches a price agreement, the seller advises the buyer to wire the money. But instead of sending the puppy, the seller then demands additional money to pay for transportation costs and insurance, according to DeWine. If the buyer refuses to pay, the seller threatens to report them for animal abuse.

Attorney General DeWine said when shopping for a new pet online, there are signs it could be a scam:

  • Too good to be true. e.g. paying $650 for a puppy valued at $1,300.
  • Seller insists on money order or wire transfer.
  • Additional fees to cover a temperature-controlled crate or airline pet insurance.
  • Additional payments sue to “unexpected” delivery problems.
  • Threatens to report seller for animal abuse or neglect if they don’t pay up.

DeWine offers these tips to avoid scams:

  • Do your research. Check complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau, and review feedback from other customers. Be skeptical if you find no information; some scam artists change names regularly to trick consumers.
  • Investigate photos. Conduct an online image search of the puppy’s photo to see where else the picture is posted on the Internet. (Search “how to search by image” for help determining how to do this.) If the same picture shows up in multiple places, it could be part of a scam.
  • Don’t pay until you see the puppy in person. Also, take the puppy to a veterinarian for an exam to make sure the puppy is healthy.
  • Don’t trust sellers who accept payment only via wire transfer, prepaid card, or money order. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists because once the money is sent, it is very difficult to track or recover.

If you suspect or fall victim to a scam, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or to file a report. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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