We’ve all heard about puppy scams, but how do you know whether your perfect puppy is coming from a scam website like Zioncuties.com or a legitimate Yorkshire Terrier breeder site on the internet? Can you tell the difference between a reputable breeder and Zioncuties.com?
Nowadays, most people start their search for a Yorkshire Terrier puppy on the internet. Some people might pick up their local paper and scan through the “for-sale” columns for a puppy, but most people search online first.
Current Screenshot of Zioncuties.com.
ZION YORKIES, http://Zioncuties.com, www.Zioncuties.com
To view Zioncuties.com click here
A 2017 BBB investigation that found an increase of online pet scams in the U.S., with an “unusually high” number of scams targeting people in their late teens or 20s. In the report, PetScams.com claimed that at least 80 percent of the sponsored advertising links that appear in internet searches for pets may be fraudulent.
Zioncuties.com is one of those scams. Using images stolen from genuine breeders websites, they advertise on classified websites as well as Google and Yahoo search.
Zioncuties.com has already been reported on Petscams.com under Yorkshire Terrier scams
How does the average person determine if an offer is coming from a real person with real puppies to sell? It is not as hard as it might seem.
Before you become hoodwinked by the cuteness, check out a few of these ideas.
Zioncuties.com Scam or Legitimate Offer?
The easiest way to determine if you are working with a real person is to find a Yorkshire Terrier breeder near your own home. If they give you their address and invite you to visit their home, you can’t go wrong.
Person to person contact is reassuring, but visiting the breeders’ home, seeing the puppies and the puppies’ parents make the interaction real.
Even if it takes an hour or two travel time to visit the breeder’s home, it is the best and safest way to assure you are buying a Yorkshire Terrier puppy that you have seen and approved.
If you found the Yorkshire Terrier of your choice that is not close by, insist on speaking to the breeder over Skype, Facetime or any other video conferencing software.
Ways to Detect Yorkshire Terrier Puppy Scams
1. The Offer Sounds Too Good to Be True
If it sounds too great, it probably is. Excellent breeders will not sell their Yorkshire Terrier puppies for rock bottom prices. It is not cheap to raise a litter. Vet bills, health testing, food and supplements, time and effort go into a litter.
So, if the price seems too good, it probably is not legit. If you have been checking the price of Yorkshire Terrier puppies that you are interested in buying and a puppy comes up that is way below the going price, there is a reason for it. Read on for more information about prices.
2. Free or nearly free shipping:
Many scammers will offer shipping at a ridiculously low price with their choice of Pet Delivery Agency. Scammers entice you to purchase knowing that shipping is not going to be an added expense however, if you fall for the scam, the cost of shipping continues to grow almost daily.
Scammers will normally insist on shipping the puppy to you. They will make up 100 excuses for why you cannot pick up the puppy in person. This is because they will charge you much more for the shipping that you have paid for the puppy.
If you are adamant that you will pick up the puppy in person the scammer will eventually relent and arrange an appointment to meet.
Scammers do this as there is a possibility that you will relent and pay for shipping. It does not cost them anything if you insist on driving cross country to an address that has no connection with the scam.
There are several stories of home owners who were unaware that their address was being used as part of a Yorkshire Terrier puppy scam
3. Whare are Jacksonville FL, United States located?
A genuine breeders website will have a location, phone number, email and probably social media links. This is because genuine breeders want to be contacted by what ever method is convenient to you.
Scammers spend time creating multiple new websites. It would take them a lot longer if they needed a new email, phone and address for each one. The simplify it by having as few methods of contact as possible
4. Written Communication and Poor Grammar
A scammer will often provide a phone number however they prefer to SMS unless you insist. This is because the majority of Puppy Scammers actually originate in Cameroon, West Africa. They prefer not to speak to you as this may arouse your suspicions.
Scammers are also happy to correspond by email. Read the email carefully. The wording in the email should be proper English. If you are in the US, scan the wording and determine if it is a native speaking US citizen. The same applies to the UK, New Zealand, Australia or other English-speaking countries. Puppy scams often originate abroad.
Ask questions. If it is a scammer the first replies to your questions will be well written however this a script that they are coping and pasting. If you ask continue to ask questions about the puppy the scammers answers deteriorate and become much shorter.
If the response you receive seems odd, or does not conform to the local vernacular or how you would expect a native to speak or respond to your questions, chances are you are not corresponding with a local person. While not a definite sign, that should at least send up a red flag. Odd use of grammar is a telltale sign that you are not dealing with a native speaker.
5. No Visiting Permitted
There are very valid reasons why a breeder might not want to allow you full access to their kennel, but if you get the feeling that the person refuses to allow visits, there is a problem. Some breeders will allow a visit to their home but not tours of their kennel facilities.
Do not immediately rule these breeders that refuse admittance to their kennels, as they may have a good reason for not allowing access to their kennels. Infectious disease is one such reason. Some breeders have been hurt by people visiting their kennels and introducing parasites or viruses.
For example, if you visit one site that may have a parvo outbreak and then travel to another breeder, you can unwittingly pass on the parvovirus to the dogs in the second kennel creating a biohazard to the breeder. One such instance is likely to prompt the breeder to close off the kennel to outside pathogens.
There is no excuse for a Yorkshire Terrier breeder to not have a video call with you. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a puppy they should oblige you with a video call!
6. Website: The Telltale Clue of Puppy Scams
Many scammers provide extensive lists of testimonials. Now, there is nothing wrong with a testimonial, but when you cannot confirm the legitimacy of the person providing the testimonial, you should question their authenticity. You can search part of the text to see if the testimonial has been used on other scam websites.
There are normally beautiful photos of small puppies all appearing to be between 6 weeks and 12 weeks. Study the photographs well. If the photos look professional then they should all share the same background as they would have been taken at the same time.
If they are not professionally taken then they should all be of the same quality and appear to be from the same location.
The site normally will have little actual information about the puppy other than a fake birthdate and a price. If there is information about the breed you can use Copyscape to see if the content has been stolen.
7. No Physical Address
Do you have a real physical address of the person you are sending money to? Google it to see if it exists. Do not accept a PO box for an address.
Many breeders have been hurt by people who send bad checks, but if the payment requirement seems odd, such as a Walmart money order, postal money order, Western Union, Zelle or other anonymous money transfer you may want to do a bit more research.
Do not pay with Paypal “Friends and Family” as this offers no protection.
You may find many legitimate sites that accept these types of payments, but contact them before you send any money.
8. Photos Virtually Nonexistent but Surprisingly, a video exists.
A site that can only provide pictures of an 8 or 9-week-old puppy may be a scam. Can they provide the pictures of the puppy’s parents or grandparents? At the very least, they should be able to provide a picture of the puppy’s mother.
If they have no pictures of the puppy prior to 8 weeks old, that should send up a red flag. Most good breeders will start photographing their puppies from birth onward.
Can they keep you up to date with pictures of the puppy as they grow? Many scam sites will only have one or two pictures of a puppy that is 8 or 9 weeks old. Ask to see newborn pictures.
Where did the video come from? It is relatively easy to steal a video or ask a legitimate breeder to send you photos and videos. Once the scammer has both in his possession, it is simple to add them online.
Ask for a new video of the puppy you are buying. Tell them that you want your name and their website written on a piece of paper in the video. Use this format:
Yorkshire Terrier Puppy for [YOUR NAME].
BREEDERS WEBSITE IS : [BREEDERS WEBSITE]
This is easy for a breeder to do but virtually impossible for a scammer.
9. The Urgency to Ship Right Away
The urgency to ship your puppy right away often within 24 hours is a big red flag. What’s the hurry. They want your money. Ask them if they can ship in two weeks and see what they say? Beyond that, there is no way that someone can secure a flight that quickly. It just doesn’t happen.
Doing Research on the Web will Uncover Puppy Scams
Tin Eye, a Reverse Image Search Engine
Tin Eye is a reverse image search and can tell you where any photos on the web originate. If the puppy pictures were stolen from another website, this site would find the original source.
Check out the Owner of the Website at Whois
Whois is a database that will allow you to look at the person who owns the site. It should provide identifiable information about the website owner, their host server, where the host is located and the and IP Address.
Look for the date the website was established. If it is recent, it could mean you are dealing with puppy scams. Scammers’ websites do not stay up for very long.
According to Whois, Zioncuties.com was registered with NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC. on July 7, 2019 which was only 1 months and 24 days ago.. It only has a 1 year registration. This unusually short for a genuine website but is common for a scam website.
Scammers often use privacy protection to hide their details but also use false information. The information used to register Zioncuties.com is:
- Name: PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC
- Email: email@example.com
- Location: Jacksonville FL, United States
The website for Zioncuties.com is hosted on the following name servers: ns10.wixdns.net,ns11.wixdns.net
You can send a Domain Abuse Report to NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC. by clicking the button and completing the form.
Does the Site Include Links to Social Media?
Are they on any social media sites? Scammers often display links to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest order to look legitimate however the links do not lead to a brand page.
Not all good breeders are on social media, but many are on at least one form of social media, often Facebook. Ask to chat with them on their Facebook page. Do they have Skype? Some breeders use this form of communication. It is worthwhile to see what their Skype number is and contact them there.
You’ve Been Scammed, Now What
There is no guarantee that you will recover your losses, but there are a few things you still should do. The more places you report it, the better chance you have to shut Zioncuties.com down.
- Stop sending money to anyone connected with Zioncuties.com
- Visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report.
- Report it to the Better Business Bureau here
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission here
- File a complaint with your local police department.
It truly feels horrible when you discover you have been a victim of puppy scams. The emotional loss of know the puppy you already started to love will never be yours. Losing money, not matter what your financial situation is difficult to take.
Please take some time to recover your loss before you begin to look again. File reports with as many agencies that you can find. This helps put these puppy scammers out of business.
Lastly, and this is truly the hardest, don’t fall emotionally in love with a beautiful puppy pictures until you’ve done your due diligence.