Friday, 15 February 2013

WARNING - Puppies For Sale - SCAM

As I mentioned in my post yesterday we have a new addition here, a bundle of furry fun called Lacey, a very pretty little Springer Spaniel.

Springer Spaniel puppy

She has settled in well, Jackson has shown her the ropes and been a star, he is such a good dog so very soft natured, we knew we would have no trouble introducing a puppy into the home with him.

Lacey really is a lovely little puppy, and we are certain she will become a great member of the family, Darren has always loved Springer Spaniels, where as I have always been a boxer dog sort of person, and Jackson is well and truely a mummys boy, so we had discussed getting a second dog who would become Darrens companion, for quite a while and with Darrens family always having Springers it was a natural choice for him.

However when we went searching for a puppy we made some errors and had a rough time before we found Laceys and I think its important to share our experiences to help other people prevent the same troubles.

We were very nearly scammed, taken in by a FAKE advert selling puppies. Thankfully we picked up on the scam before the scammer managed to steal our money, but it was very close.
 I want to make people aware of how the events unfolded and how easy it is to be taken in by these scams, however it is a long story, but one worth reading and warning people about.
I thought we were fairly aware of these sort of things, but unfortunately these scammers make themselves seem the perfect match for your needs.

For the past few months we've been talking about the possibility of getting a second dog, a companion for Jackson, and we have been discussing which sort of pup we ideally wanted, and like many people do, we googled puppies for sale, and found a pet advertising website, pets4homes, a great resource full of people advertising puppies, with photos and details and contact information to the sellers.

We searched down the Springer Spaniel section, and talked about how much we could afford, what colour we ideally would like and book marked several adverts.

Over the last week we decided we would take it to the next stage, so we rang around and found that the first few adverts we liked the sound of, were all sold, the colour pups we were after had been snapped up, so we rang the next on our list, a cute picture portrayed 3 puppies, any one of which we would have happily brought home, cute puppies in someones arms. Priced within our budget and ready to come home.

We excitedly rang the number, asked lots of questions, all answered perfectly normally, we wanted a bitch as they don't grow quite as big and can be more placid than boys, and were pleased to hear they still had a girl and a boy available, one of the three had been sold, and someone else had just rang possibly wanting another, I asked if they could email me across some more photographs to look at as there was only one in the advert, the seller agreed to once he was home that evening.

Over the next few hours we looked back at the advert, talked over what the seller had told me about the litter, the mum dog, and the puppies, everything sounded perfect, eager not to miss the chance of having the girl we decided to ring back prior to receiving the additional photographs and say we would like to come over and look instead - MISTAKE NUMBER 1 ask and wait to receive  additional photographs of the pups with the mum if they are not in the advert

The seller seemed pleased and told us he would be home anytime after 4, which was fine by us, as he was a few hours away, I asked for his address and he said 'I'll give you my postcode, its easier that way' I noted it down, took the house number, but he never confirmed his full address, I didn't think anything of it as with sat navs its not necessary,  we were excited and he seemed helpful so we told him we would be with him around 6pm  - MISTAKE NUMBER 2 always take a full name and street address

We googled the postcode, and looked at the street map to give us a guide, we noted down the google map directions, got in the car and set off, with all three children in tow all excited about going to see some puppies.

On the way there we chatted about what sort of pup we ideally wanted, we agreed to come away if anything was not right, but hoping that it would all slot into place and we could bring home a new addition that night.  We had no trouble following the directions and soon arrived at the destination we had been sent too, at this point it dawned on us we had not confirmed a street name so we were not 100% certain we were in the right place at all, but undeterred we thought we must be so knocked on house number 30's door, and we were greeted with a lady who had no puppies, and no idea who we were, she said her postcode was different to the one we had.

Thankfully she was very understanding and invited me in whilst she googled the postcode I'd been given and brought up a street map again, she directed me 5 miles down the road and gave me a street name to look out for.

So we set off, yet we could not find this street, we drove up and down the main road where the google map showed us to turn off,  but we quickly realised there was not  likely to be 30 houses along this road or any side roads at all, and infact it was a very quiet, rural place, and we kicked ourselves for not being more thorougher when we were at home looking at the street maps.

Getting no where we decided to reach for our mobile phone and ring the seller, however I picked up my phone and as it was dialling the battery went flat - MISTAKE NUMBER 3 always take a fully charged working mobile phone with you

So we stopped at a local newsagent, I was sure they would know the postcodes and beable to help us, the shopkeeper was indeed very helpful he again googled for me and showed me the street we were looking for, the same as the previous lady had, so I thanked him and set off again.

We then did indeed find the street we were looking for, a very small country side lane, and there was only a couple of houses on it, neither had numbers and instead had names, so I knocked on the door of one of them and explained our predicament, the man told me there was most certainly not 30 houses on the road, indeed only two and the postcode was slightly different to that one I had.

Completely confused, we decided our only hope was to find a phone box, which thankfully there was just a few meters down the road, I jumped out the car and dialled the seller of the pups, he was very apologetic, and concerned that we had been lost, I explained where we were and that the postcode he gave us was taking us to somewhere that didn't have 30 houses, I explained about the shop we'd just been in and told him various street names that we'd passed, and asked him which street he was on, he said 'there isn't a street name as such'  now that should have set instant alarm bells ringing, but the area is very remote and the main road runs all the way through and there does indeed seem to be very few signs with street names on them, hence our struggle to locate the road we were looking for, and googles mix up with postcodes, he kept apologising and saying how awful it was, how his mate often got mixed up with postcodes too, and he said 'stay in the phone box your in, I'll get my sister to ring you back in 5 mins and give you directions we're not far away' Yet he didn't direct me himself, or give any hint to a landmark 'next to the big tree, the church, the newsagents etc)

So I put the phone down, and went back to the car to tell Darren what he'd said, and Darren said it sounds abit dodgy, why didn't he direct you himself, surely he knows where he lives? Why does his sister need too? me, being naive and too trusting, said maybe he was out? (we were now an hour later than we said we were going to be, I was reasoning that maybe he had gone to the pub? or to work?) Darren said well get in the car we'll wait five minutes then we're off, so we waited but the phone did not ring, so we drove off.

Darren growing suspicious of the sellers motives, and concerned he just wanted our location to come to us to threaten us into giving him our money, me naively believing there still was a chance of finding the house, so we sent off again to find this mystical '30' no street house, and we did indeed find a block of 4 houses, one number 34, the next 32 and the last one had no number but must be 30. So I knocked on the door, a lady answered and again was helpful told me her postcode was not the one we were looking for either, although it was similar (just one letter out) and her house was indeed number 30this was the closest we got, but still so far away.

We now didn't know what to do, and another half an hour had passed, so we  returned to the phone box, and decided to ring once more before giving up and heading home. This time the man answered and was not at all as friendly or happy sounding, he seemed considerably put out all of a sudden, he did not want to listen to me, or tell me how to find him, or give me the landline number of 'his sister' who should have been ringing me, instead he just repeatedly said 'we came to look for you and you weren't there!'

Eventually after a few minutes of me saying, but can I have a landline number, my credit is going, can you not direct me to you, I don't want you to come to me.. etc etc' my credit ran out and I hung up and got in the car and we drove off home.

Angry for the time wasted, three children upset at returning home without seeing a puppy they had been promised to see, and tired from the journey we went over what had just happened as we drove the long journey home.

The next day we looked up the advert again,  still not quite sure what actually had happened, if it was us just not being able to find the address, or if indeed someone was conning us.We saw that the advert had been updated to keep it at the top of the listing, and there was no mention of the fact that only  2 puppies were left (which was what I had been told), it clearly stated 3 puppies available, we googled again the postcode, and it again pointed us to the road we had spent the previous evening driving along, we looked at the street map more closely and there seemed to be no houses anywhere along the stretch where the postcode pin pointed. We tried to not dwell on it and looked up other Springer Spaniel adverts.

The following day we again were looking along the adverts, and noticed a new photo had appeared, but had the same contact details and information as the seller which we could not find.

We studied the photo, this time three puppies, similar yes to the original photograph... but not the same, this time the pups were peering over the edge of a basket, trying hard to remember what the original photo was like to see if this was the same three puppies and we noticed differences, bigger white markings than before... pinker noses.... curlier ears..... Darren convinced now it was 100% a scam, clicked the report advert and started filling out the form, I went over to my laptop and googled 'Springer spaniel Puppies' and searched through the images... and sure enough I found the image on an American Website posted in May 2012.. thats almost a year go.

This confirmed the advert was completely FAKE there simply was never any puppies and the seller obviously was giving a fake postcode in order to make the buyers lost, and then when they ring up to ask for the final part of the journeys directions, he will instead ask for the buyers locations and arrange to meet them to 'show them the way' and whilst doing so in this remote location, anything could happen, I can only imagine he wanted to steal the cash he knows you most likely will have brought with you to pay for the pup.

We thankfully didn't let this happen, and we returned home safe and well and went onto find another seller and get Lacey. But eager to prevent someone else going through the same with the advert still being live on the website even after we had reported it, I decided to ring 101 - the police non emergency crime prevention number, I started to explain what had happened and the call centre put me through to what I can only imagine was the actual police station in the area where the pups were - not my own area, I again started to explain what had happened but was stopped by the policeman who was now talking to me, he abruptly asked 'what is the crime you are reporting' I said I was not reporting any actual crime, but hoping to prevent one, and he was disinterested, almost insinuating I was wasting his time, and told me it was not the business of his police station, and only the police station in my area could help protect me if a crime had actually been commited, and I was unable to report a potential crime in a different area.

I was slightly bemused by this response, but am pleased to report that the advert has now been suspended and is no longer available on Pets4homes.

Please do share this with anyone you know who is thinking of buying a puppy and please do be careful to ensure you are buying a puppy from a trusted breeder.

Even if you do manage to get to the persons house, ensure that the pups they are advertising are what you are buying, so many adverts state 'KC registered' when they are not or 'Full Pedigree' when you can obviously tell the dogs are cross breeds. 
Take your time to ensure the puppy you are purchasing is the one you want, as pups are a huge responsibility and need lots of love and attention even before you've brought them home!


  1. Thanks for sharing this Sarah. Love your new addition! Cute or what!

    We nearly fell for a similar scam on the same website. Puppies are advertised, a boy & girl, local to us and reasonably priced. When we emailed the seller they told us that the puppies are now on a remote island in scotland because the puppies were their daughters but she had passed away, so they were left with the puppies. They told us we could have the puppies free of charge and all we pay is for a courier to bring them to us.

    We looked up online and quite a few people have fallen for this scam by paying around £300 to the fake owners for a courier and receiving no puppy. This isnt the way I want to find a new puppy for our home as I would want to view a puppy first, but these scammers work on pulling at your heart strings with the loss of their daughter.

    You really have to be on the ball when buying a new puppy x

  2. Thanks for sharing your story too Emma, its too easy to scam people isn't it? because no one wants to do anything about it, like when I told the police about what I had found, because my money hadn't actually been stolen I couldn't report anything. most people are trusting, I thought I had done everything correctly, rang up chatted, ask for extra pictures, got all the details, told I could see both mum and dad. But it was all lies. I think we were slightly blinded by the cute puppy we were eager to find and had we not been so excited and eager we wouldn't have ever gone to this house as we should have waited for the photos - which obviously never would have turned up, but you think someone else will beat you to the pup if you wait too long don't you, ah well lesson learnt. Glad you managed to keep hold of your money too and the scammers didn't win there x

  3. Wow I can't believe people are doing this. That's sick. I'm glad that you didn't fall for the scam and are now spreading the word to warn people. I hope you have lots of fun with your new addition to the family x

  4. A lucky escape indeed! She is just beautiful by the way, bet Jackson is happy to have a little sister! :)

  5. that is shocking about the police not wanting to know.
    hoe your little one is settling in with the family

    1. I guess its difficult to prove he would have stole something, and would take time and effort to find him and then if they did track him down he would just deny it and say he did have pups and has sold them? or he would say he knew nothing about the ad? and it would be 'not enough evidence' I guess thats why the police didn't care much, I am glad the site took the advert down tho, although they never contacted me to say thanks for flagging it!

  6. How awful!! It really does make so cross that there are people out there like this!

    I am glad you all got home safe and well and you got your perfect pup in the end :-)

  7. What a cutey! I am so pleased you are all safe! Thanks for sharing the story!


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