New twist on the old puppy scam

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CYPRESS, Texas – Puppy scams are nothing new. Scammers play on your emotions with the promise of a sweet, new furry friend who, in the end, victims learn he may not even exist. The KPRC 2 Investigates team has a new twist on the old puppy scam that uses real photos and videos of puppies that are actually for sale.

Many legitimate dog breeders and sellers use social media for their business. But a Cypress woman reached out to us when she said she caught a scammer using her videos and photos to trick people into posting bail for dogs she didn’t own.

A dog breeder says thieves are using her images to scam people out of money. The warning and what to look for when looking for puppies online. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.)

Lindy Johnson breeds Australian Labradoodles and business is booming.

“They don’t lose. They are easy going. They are perfect family dogs,” Johnson said. “Everybody wants a puppy. And everybody wants a puppy now.

A few months ago, a client recognized Lindy on someone else’s page.

“She saw that this scammer pretending to be a breeder was using my videos, my photos,” she said.

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A dog breeder says thieves are using her images to scam people out of money. The warning and what to look for when looking for puppies online. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.)

The scam is quite simple.

“They get the deposit and they disappear. So I had two clients tell me what happened to them. So they take the bail. That’s the goal,” Johnson said. “So they’re getting enough $400 deposits, they’re doing pretty well.”

Johnson said she was shocked and angry when she saw this happen.

“Because I don’t want anyone using my photos, especially with my son,” Johnson said.

A puppy breeder discovers that her photos are being used by a stranger to scam other people out of money. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.)

Johnson said it happened in this closed Facebook group “Labradoodle puppies for adoption”. Once someone is accepted into the group, they can post photos and make comments.

Johnson and his friends reported it to Facebook, but were told there wasn’t enough evidence for the social media site to do anything about it.

“There’s no way to shut this down. We tried to shut it down,” Johnson said.

“They’ve learned to strike your chord,” said Dan Parsons of the Better Business Bureau.

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Dan Parsons of the Better Business Bureau said pet scams in general are hard to track.

“We think they’re overseas,” Parsons said. “We hear Asia, we hear your Eastern Europe, we don’t really know. Nobody really knows.

Warning signs that you are dealing with a puppy scammer

This experience taught Johnson the red flags that should alert you that something is wrong.

  • The seller claims you can “get a puppy right away”.

For many breeds, especially Australian Labradoodles, expect to wait.

“A wait of six months to 12 months at all times. So that’s probably the norm among most breeders, actually,” Johnson said.

  • The names and accounts are all different.

Check all of the breeder’s accounts, including their payment apps. Do they match and return to the same person?

“Everything should work together, social media, website, location, it should all be really obvious.”

  • They only want to send messages.

Beware if they only want to use Facebook Messenger. Ask for a mobile number.

“You should be able to reach someone to talk to you if you want,” Johnson said.

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  • The only option is to see photos.

Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of a puppy.

“You should expect someone to be able to take real-time real-time photos with Facetime if you want to,” Johnson explained.

Warning about a new twist on the old puppy scam. Thieves use real photos of breeders to trick people into sending them money.

Do your research on breeders before buying

There are safe ways to choose a breeder. You can check registered breeders with these organizations:

We contacted the administrators of the page where Johnson’s photos and videos were posted. They told us they were monitoring the page for potential scammers.

“I just want people to be aware of the possibility of being scammed and how easy it is,” Johnson said.

Johnson said even she might not speak to someone before making a deposit. So she can see how easily this can happen. And she will start watermarking her photos.


Facebook says they’re working to stop fraud in Groups

A Facebook representative reviewed the group and told us there was not much they could do and that many people in the group were legit. Here’s more from the statement Facebook sent us:

“Our Community Standards apply across Facebook, including public and private groups. These standards include policies against fraud and deception and we remove content that engages, promotes, encourages or facilitates false user reviews.

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The Facebook representative told us about advances in technology and artificial intelligence to detect fraud. When the algorithms flag content, a staff member makes the final decision on whether or not to remove groups that violate our policies. These efforts include public and private groups.

Anyone can report potential violations. Facebook also has policies regarding intellectual property and does not allow people to post content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights.

Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston – All Rights Reserved.

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