Residents urged to beware of puppy scams, with 30 Flagler cases since 2020


The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has received dozens of complaints about puppy scams across the county. As of 2020, there have been 10 cases reported to the FCSO and 20 cases reported to the Flagler Beach Police Department.

In an effort to raise awareness of these scams and educate the community on preventative measures, FCSO and FBPD have teamed up to provide residents of Flagler County how to verify a legitimate business and how to protect yourself and your family from a scam.

In recent cases, victims have responded to advertisements on sites like Craigslist and social media platforms. Victims show interest in a puppy for sale, move through the puppy reservation process, put down a deposit or the full amount – and the seller disappears.

There are a number of red flags you should be aware of to help you avoid becoming a victim:

  • The seller prefers to manage the communication only by e-mail and not by phone.
  • Photos of dogs posted or shared with potential buyers are archival photos. Photos and descriptions of the animal can be found on several websites.
  • Non-traditional payment requests, where the seller requests a money transfer or gift card payment.
  • The price is too good to be true.

Recent cases also included fraudulent documents from the American Kennel Club in which the seller claimed the puppies were AKC certified. Animals registered by the AKC will always be listed through the AKC. AKC certification can be verified by calling 919-233-9767, where interested parties can also see if there are any complaints filed against the seller. You can also visit

Legitimate breeders are required by law to adhere to the minimum standards of humane care and treatment of animals established by the Animal Welfare Act and enforced by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services. .

When looking for a furry companion to add to your family, here are some tips for checking the legitimacy of the person relocating or selling the animal:

  • Ask for several photos of the animal, including poses with specific objects such as a recent newspaper or a tennis ball, to make sure the animal is real.
  • Ask for the phone number of the person selling / relocating the animal and the name of the veterinary clinic where the animal was seen. If the seller does not give the number or if it is not a US number, it is probably a scam. If you are provided with phone numbers, call back and ask questions.
  • If the seller says it’s in a particular condition and asks you to send money somewhere else, including another country, avoid it.
  • If the person is claiming to be a breeder or a rescue organization, ask for registration information. (All legitimate businesses and non-profit organizations will be registered with SunBiz and the Department of Agriculture). You can check at:
  • Never pay cash by money order or Western Union. Always use a credit card in case you need to dispute a charge.
  • Be skeptical if the seller adds “extra charges” such as fees for vet visits, a different fund, travel expenses, pet insurance, etc. Pet insurance is NOT required for a pet to travel.
  • Don’t trust a salesperson who insists the sale happen quickly because they are moving, need to relocate the animal immediately, or say the puppy can be hurt if not caught. in right time.
  • Do your research to get an idea of ​​the breed you are looking for, the vendor, agency, organization or rescue you select, and make sure you understand what that entails in the cost.

“With the recent incidents of scammers finding new ways to steal money from residents, we want to make sure Flagler County residents are aware of these scams and how to protect themselves,” Sheriff said. Rick Staly. “It saddens me to see people sink to this level by using animals to make quick money. Be vigilant and vigilant, report any suspicious activity, and do your research when adding a new pet to your family. We have some great local organizations that can help you adopt a pet, like the Flagler Humane Society, so if you are considering adopting, be sure to select a reputable organization or person.

If you are looking to add a four-legged companion to your family, please consider adopting them from a local rescue organization or shelter.

See PSA Scam Puppy here:

Other resources:


AKC (919-233-9767)

USDA Licensed Breeders (Public Animal Care Research Tool

Report a scam:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

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