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State Police Issue Alert For Pet Scam

New York State Police are warning residents of a puppy scam.
New York State Police are warning residents of a puppy scam. Photo Credit: Pezibear/PIxabay

New York State Police have received multiple calls from people scammed out of hundreds of dollars after answering classified ads for purebred puppies for sale.

Victims report after answering the ad, the suspects provide a photo of the breed they are looking for and arrange a deposit to be paid, said Trooper James O’Callaghan.

Once the deposit is cleared, the victim is provided an address, which does not exist, to pick up their puppy. 

Recently, these fake addresses have been in the St. Lawrence County area.

State Police warn the public of some common themes in this scam:

  • The deposit is requested to be made via payment apps, such as Zelle or CashApp.
  • All communication with the “breeder” takes place via text.
  • An address for the puppies is not provided until after the deposit is made.
  • The “breeder” sends the victim stock photos of whatever breed they are looking for, i.e. Labrador Retriever, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog.

The American Kennel Club offers the following tips on what to avoid when looking for a reputable breeder:

  • No phone calls. The seller prefers to handle communication by email and not the phone. A reputable breeder will always communicate with you via phone or video chat before selling you a puppy. 
  • Copycat or stock photos. Photos of the dog or ad text can be found on multiple websites. Search for the text in the listing to see if the seller copied and pasted it from another site.
  • Sketchy payment. Avoid paying a stranger using apps such as Venmo, as it is harder to get your money back if you don’t get what you paid for. Paying by credit card or PayPal is typically the safest option.
  • Price is too good to be true. Research the prices for the breed you are considering ahead of time. 

If you are scammed, here are some reporting resources:

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