Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Creating safer, stronger and active communities

Puppy Scam

If you are seeking to purchase a puppy, be warned that fraudsters continue to advertise high value puppies for sale, yet it is nothing but a scam.

This is not a new type of fraud, national media attention and Action Fraud data from 2012, has highlighted how the crime has cost UK victims in excess of £1M.



The latest data from Action Fraud reveals that pet fraud continues to impact on people within the county. So if you, or any friends and family are considering buying a puppy or any other animal, then please alert them to the scam.

How the scam works

Fraudsters are advertising pets and pet accessories on online marketplaces at a lower than expected price in an attempt to attract victims. The fraudsters are then demanding full payment or a deposit for the animal via bank transfer or electronic wire. It is likely that if you ask them to use an electronic payment service like PayPal, they will provide an excuse that there is an issue with their account and the bank payment needs to be made now to secure the purchase.

Under some circumstances, the seller may need a licence to breed dogs issued by the local authority, (3 or more litters in 12-month period/advertising for sale) ask the seller if they have a licence and what local authority issued it, then check as it is open source information. If they don’t meet the criteria for needing a licence, then ask why? What explanation do they give, is it credible, believable?

To prevent requests to visit the animal, fraudsters will tell victims that it is located in a remote or faraway location, which stops them from travelling to see it. There will be additional costs in transporting the animal to your home, if you offer to collect they will make excuses, or they may offer to meet you.

In some cases, the fraudsters are telling victims that they need to pay further fees for animal travel insurance, documentation or special travel cages. Victims are promised that some or all of these extra fees will be refunded when they receive the animal, however once these funds have been transferred, the fraudster will stop all communication, leaving victims out of pocket and with no pet.

A report from Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) in 2018, shows that 61% of victims were female and 22% of victims were 20 – 29 years old. It also shows that 31% of people said falling victim to this type of fraud had a significant impact on their health and financial wellbeing.

The report suggests that fraudsters are targeting victims who wish to buy popular breeds. The highest number of reports related to pugs – 224 reports with victims losing £76,451.

Fraudsters are also offering pet-related products for sale which don’t exist or are not as described.

The advice

  • If you’re purchasing goods and services from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, or ask friends and family for advice before completing a purchase. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid paying for good and services by bank transfer as that offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
  • Ask for photographs or videos of the animal; a responsible seller will understand why the buyer wants photographs and more information before making a purchase.
  • Use the online marketplace’s ‘report’ function if you come across suspicious adverts or seller.
  • Sellers offering to meet you ‘halfway’ seems generous but you should only buy the puppy directly from the place where he/she was born and raised.
  • When buying a puppy, you must insist on seeing the puppy interacting with its mother and littermates in the location where they were bred and reared - Make sure you visit the puppy more than once too.
  • If you have an image of the puppy for sale, you can do what is called a reverse image search using Google images or a website called TinEye. This search will reveal if the same image has appeared on any other websites.
  • If you think you have fallen victim to a fraud, report it to Action Fraud online (actionfraud.police.uk) or by calling: 0300 123 2040

For more information about puppy fraud visit: