It came to us as a surprise when we heard our clients experienced scams in the past when purchasing puppies online. Because of the bad experiences they had, many clients decided to fly or drive to us instead of using our shipping service. A couple drove 16 hours from Nova Scotia and another client who took a flight from Vancouver. People would rather go through travelling for hours over shipping service, because if you get scammed, it's nearly impossible to get your money back.
We'd like to tell you how to avoid this terrible incident by following a few steps before deciding to send money to a stranger.
Face time with the puppy
Many of scammers don't even have puppies in their hands. They find cute puppy photos online to scam buyers. The easiest way to find out if the person actually has the puppy, is to face time with the seller and the puppy. If the seller refuses to do so, then you might want to reconsider.
Don't send money all at once
If you are just sending money to secure the puppy before pickup, it should be through a deposit. You should never send the full amount at once. Deposits are usually 10-20% of the total amount (depending on the seller). Usually you won't be asked to pay the full amount before pickup.
However, when you and the seller are arranging flight for the puppy, it will be a different story. You'll be paying the full amount before having the puppy in your hand. You can kindly ask the seller to book the flight by sending deposit and pay the remaining balance after you receive the flight confirmation email.
This is what we usually do for our shipping service: The buyer needs to send a deposit to secure the puppy before we arrange the shipment. After that, we book the flight before receiving the balance. The buyer will receive booking confirmation email that has both seller and the buyers information. The remaining balance is due 12 hours before the departure.
PayPal transfer to "Family/Friends"
If you get scammed by sending money using your PayPal account, you can actually get refund if anything goes wrong. However, if the seller asks you to send the money as sending it to family and friends, then there is no way you can get your money back. Therefore it's strongly suggested to send money under service or merchandise if you are using PayPal. Also it is good to add a note stating that: "I am paying for a puppy and the puppy is waiting to be shipped with this payment." so that if anything goes wrong, you can file a refund with PayPal. If the seller needs to receive PayPal payment under family/friends, then we suggest you to ask for any sort of business license to make sure it's not a fraud.
Purchasing a puppy online is very common these days and it can be really convenient. On the other hand, if it didn't go as you wished, it can be a very tragic experience. Always be extra careful when you purchase a puppy online!