Beware of Pet Scams, Tips From the IPATA

International Pet and Animal Transportation Association


Thinking of getting a puppy for your children this holiday season? Just be careful. Beware of pet scams and review the tips below from the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), the non-profit, worldwide trade association for professional pet shippers, before sending any money.

“For those families who have found an animal over the Internet, be cautious. I have seen hundreds of scams and advise families to educate themselves on how scammers operate so they won’t be their next victim,” says IPATA President Manuel Leunda. “Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Many scams begin with an advertisement – an adorable puppy or an exotic animal at half the cost.. The scammer’s only request payment for the inexpensive shipping fees, usually by Western Union or MoneyGram, before the animal can be shipped. But additional costs will soon follow – extra shipping costs, customs clearance fees, vaccinations and insurance. Once the money is sent, the person learns there is no animal.

Scammers are luring pet lovers out of thousands of dollars with photos of cute animals, heart-breaking stories and irresistible prices.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine if it is a scam, until it is too late.

Leunda continues, “Scammers can be located anywhere in the world, so don’t be reassured if the person who emails back says they are local. Often you will find out later in the process that the animal is located somewhere else and that’s why they need the extra fees. If you can, try to adopt an animal closer to home so you can meet the animal and the person you are doing business with.”

Here are 5 tips that can help you identify a possible pet scam:

  1. Always insist that the seller enter into a formal contract.The document should detail the method of transportation, timeframe, the airline of carriage, all associated costs, and copy of the health certificate.
  1. Check references.If the seller indicates that a specific company will handle the shipping, get complete details for the shipping company and then check them out! Use Google to research them and call them to confirm that they knowthe breeder.
  1. Check affiliations.In order to convey authenticity, scammers may claim to be a member of IPATA. If this is the case, simply look up their company name in the IPATA member directory (visit  and click on “Find a Pet Shipper”). If they are not in the directory, they are not a member.
  2. No such thing as “refundable insurance”. Scammers will try to charge for “refundable insurance” in case the pet is lost or hurt during the trip overseas. As everyone knows, there are no refunds when it comes to insurance!
  3. Most importantly – Be wary of sending funds by wire. Scammers will say this is the most inexpensive and fastest way of doing business. Most reputable dealers will request that you wire transfer funds to their company bank account or will accept a credit card or PayPal payment.

For more information, please visit


The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) is a non-profit, worldwide trade association for animal handlers, pet moving providers, kennel operators, veterinarians and others who are dedicated to the care and welfare of pets and animals during transport. The organization was founded in 1979. It began with six founding members and now has more than 350 members in over 80 countries. IPATA serves its members, the pet transport industry, and the public at large. For more information, or to find a professional pet shipper, visit


  1. Danyelle says:

    I was trying to order a Pomsky (a dog) from a guy name Vasili Lion. He told me he was having the pup shipped through delta pet. So I called them to verify it and there was no evidence that he’s even talked to these people. Delta Pet told me that it was a scam and that I should repor him. I don’t want this happening to anyone else. Thank You

  2. says:

    Scams range from advertising free pets – with paid shipping – to very expensive animals, like Bulldogs or toy breeds, offered at very low prices.

  3. says:

    Criminal scammers will often use the names of legitimate pet shippers such as Pet-Express, using pirate websites and the logos of these companies to appear genuine.

  4. Chantell Brown says:

    Express pet guarantee is a scam those people claimed to give me a tracking number for the female yorkie I was supposedly getting. If a guy named Calvon Lamar or Gerald Smith Caregar speak to you their probanly the same person that you were emailing oh and they use google phone numbers. Pathetic people.

  5. Latoya Walker says:

    I got scammed out of $1500.00 if it wasn’t for this website It may have been an additional 750.00 more. first I answered the post and it was a lady name Maria Alejandro she wanted to ask me a few question about the home the puppies was coming to. I told her she said that she chose my family to adapt her puppies. she will set up the registration of the puppies and the shipping company will call me directly to set up time and information. the guy called me and emailed me from Flagstar-Express I googled the company and the website came up it was a good website. the guy walked me through verifying all the shipping information told me that I had to have valid ID. the shipper sent a copy of her ID so I thought it was legit. they told me the puppies would arrive at 9:30 pm. sent me an invoice. First I had to pay 500.00 dollars then a few hours later I got a call from Mark Bride saying they needed insurance for both puppies and it will be refunded to me at delivery which was 1000.00 dollars total 500.00 per puppy. Since I had told the girls they were excited and I sent it. then a few hours later they send another urgent email and said they were stopped in AZ needing Vaccination and City permit documents since the puppies was under 18 weeks in order for them to enter into CA I would have to pay an additional 750.00 for all the additional shots. Then I know I had been scammed.

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