In the Market for a Holiday Pet? BBB Warns Puppy Scams Will Cost Americans $2M This Year

Portrait small cute funny dog dachshund, black and tan, in a red sweater and santa claus hat on background Christmas tree stock photo
Ирина Мещерякова /

The Better Business Bureau is warning Americans to be on the lookout for puppy scams this holiday season. Pet scams have totaled $2 million for 2022, reported WGAU, and the BBB said that 80% of sponsored pet advertisements could be fake.

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According to data from the BBB, the average loss from a puppy scam has increased to $850, up 60% since 2017. WGAU added that most scammers set up fake websites with cute pet pictures to attract visitors. After receiving the initial payment for the dog, they may ask for more money for shipping or special crates.

Simone Williams with the BBB stated that Yorkies, Dachshunds and French Bulldogs make up nearly 30% of all puppy scams, WGAU reported.

To avoid becoming a victim of a puppy scam, the BBB warns to:

  • Do your research: Only purchase from a reputable breeder and have a basic understanding of a fair price for the breed you are considering. An online advertisement that promises a free or discounted puppy could mean it’s a scam. 
  • Don’t buy a puppy or any other pet without seeing it in person: You can also set up a video call to see the puppy.
  • Don’t wire money or use a cash app or gift card: If you fall victim to fraud, you won’t be able to get your money back.
  • Check out local animal shelters: You can also foster or adopt a puppy from a nearby shelter.
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If you believe you are a victim of a puppy scam or you found a fishy website, the BBB recommends reporting it to the BBB Scam Tracker, the Federal Trade Commission or

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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