Pet Scams

Looking for a pet online? Don't get scammed!
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pet scam

Pet scams can happen to anyone.
Learn how to spot a scam or you could be a victim!

Pet scam criminals often use free websites, Craig’s List, local newspapers, or Facebook to advertise pets that do not exist.

Expensive animals, like Bulldogs or toy breeds, are offered at very low prices.

Animals are often offered up for adoption at no cost—all you have to do is pay for the shipping. If you see an ad like this, chances are it is a scam.

These scammers are criminals. Their goal is to take your money. They will lie, they will tell you sob stories, they will send you pictures of adorable animals, they will assure you of their faith and religion - anything to get your money! They use the names of legitimate pet shippers; they pirate websites; they illegally use logos of other companies. If you see an offer that is too good to be true, it probably is. It is probably a scam!

How to Tell it's a Scam

Purchasing a Pet Online

Already Been Scammed

Report a Scammer

How to Tell it's a Scam

With online scams on the rise, please be aware of the many different types of pet scams. Many times users are lured in by a cute puppy or other pet for sale, only to find out that they have been scammed out of their money. The best way to avoid being scammed by those who are selling pets online is to educate yourself on the warning signs of a typical online pet scam. Below are listed some of the common and known scams that we see on a regular basis. If you have questions about a company, email, website or if you feel you have been scammed, please contact us at

Scammed - Buying Pets Online

The Steps of a Typical Online Pet Scam

One Buy Pets Online​ FREE PETS FOR SALE

Most pet scams begin with a buyer searching online for free / cheap pets for sale or puppies for sale.

2 Delivery of PuppyDISCOUNTED PRICE

Usually, the seller will offer to give the pet for free and then send the pet directly to them at a discounted price. Other points to look for: They almost always say they are only giving the pet away because their child passed away, that they moved for a new job and cannot provide enough attention for the animal due to work hours, or their new house won’t allow pets.

3 puppy deliveryADDITIONAL MONEY

Once committed to the sale,  paperwork and delivery requesting additional money. The scammer will then say that the airline is requiring a temperature controlled crate, shipping insurance, additional paperwork or shots, etc. Sometimes, they even set up additional email accounts, websites, etc to look like an airline or shipping company. This is all part of the scam!! They will even try to convince you that if you do not send them additional money they will report you for animal abandonment to the authorities. 


Purchasing a Pet Online

dog scam
  • Do an online search (Bing, Google, AOL, etc.) for the email address of the advertiser. Scammers often place ads on several free sites or locations. If you find multiple ads, it is most likely a scam.

  • Try to make arrangements to pick the animal up yourself, saying you will fly/drive to wherever the animal is. If they aren't willing to make those arrangements, it is probably a scam.

  • Do an online search on part of the text used in the email you receive from the shipper. Especially search for their introduction or information about the company.

  • Do not make any payments through Western Union, MoneyGram, or similar services. Once this payment leaves your hands, there is no recourse for recovery or refund.
  • Ask for the name and contact information of the “shipper” the advertiser plans to use.

  • If they claim to be a member of IPATA, you can easily check on that by using our “Find a Pet Shipper” page. On occasion, there are new members that are not listed on the IPATA online directory. If you have questions, the only way to confirm a companies membership in IPATA is to contact IPATA directly.

Already been Scammed

cat scam

I've been scammed, now what can I do?

  • Stop contact with the scammer; simply ignore their email or telephone calls or block them.
  • File a report with your local law enforcement and with your local FBI or equivalent office.   

  • File a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center: This agency is a collaborative effort among several law enforcement agencies who use criminal email addresses and websites to track these, and hopefully, apprehend these criminals.   

  • Contact the publication or site where you saw the ad. Let them know that this advertiser is a scammer, give them the email address of the scammer, and ask them to remove the ad(s) and to blacklist this person.   

  • Talk with a manager at the MoneyGram or Western Union office you used to send the money. Be sure to take a copy of the emails with all the telephone numbers, names, email addresses, etc. of the scammers. 
    • If you used Western Union, forward the copy of the email with the scammers recipient information to customercare.
    • If you used MoneyGram, call:  1-(800)-MoneyGram. Ask them to release information about the scam by contacting: Fraud Aware at MoneyGram  

  • Do an online search for the advertiser’s email address. If you find the ad on other publications, let the site know about your experience so they can remove the ad or blacklist the advertiser.   


How to Report a Scam

Click the GREEN BUTTON at the tops of this page to report your scam.
Then report the scam to as many of the following list as you can. The more you report it, the more you can save other people from being scammed.
(All of the links below will take you out of the site)

IPATA is a trade association. Our members are professional pet shippers located in more than 80 countries around the world. Our members ship pets under their own company names. IPATA does not ship pets, and there is no pet shipping company with “ipata” in the name. If you see a company using our name, please report it to us right away: .

Puppy Fraud by on Facebook

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