At petscams.com, we are often bombarded with requests to check individual websites to determine if they are fake. Fraudsters are getting better at what they do, there’s no doubt about that. The below link shows an example of this “evolution” – it is a video which was sent to a victim of a “kitten” that the fraudster was attempting to sell. Of course there was no pet and the true intended purpose was to deceive and defraud:
In some cases, it may not be possible for our volunteers to instantly verify whether a website is fraudulent upon immediate reciept. It is, however, easy for consumers to identify whether they are in contact with a fraudster.
How Can Potential Buyers Verify a Breeder?
There is one key ingredient that fraudsters place upon victims, a sense of urgency. They will want you to make a payment deposit immediately with no actual proof that the animal you intend to purchase exists.
Always ask for a video-chat with the breeder. Make them show you the pet live on video! This is the most important piece of advice.
Of course, it is also worth noting that the fraudster will likely require a deposit through a non-refundable payment method. Exercise extreme caution when paying with non-refundable payment method:
Fraudsters regularly use Moneygram, Western Union, Paypal Friends & Family, Bitcoin and Zelle. If you have not seen the pet in person or in a live videocall, do not pay with a non-refundable payment method.
Furthermore, fraudsters use websites that have strings of sentences that often appear in hundreds of other websites. This gives an indication of an untrustworthy source.
Always do search engine string searches of sentences from the website that appear generic, using speech marks in a search engine. This is very easy and takes less than 30 seconds, an example of a string-search would be searching Google with the following quote: “we have been breeding our little darlings for 15 years.”
Finally, it is always worth checking to see whether the breeder is listed in a regulated breeders directory.
Search for the website in a registered breeder directory for your country and ask the breeder for their proof of membership. If something doesn’t add up, contact the regulator. They will be happy to help. The AKC directory of registered breeders, for example, is here: https://webapps.akc.org/breeder-referral/#/
Remember, any reputable breeder will want to ensure that the animal that they have helped bring into this world is going to a good home!