Spotting a FB Scam

Seems like it might be a good time to download some Facebook know-how and save a few people some hard earned cheddar.

First, let it be known that as a rule of thumb, reputable breeders do not sell available puppies via Facebook posts. Secondly, let it be known there are outliers for every rule. There are times when a breeder with a waitlist has a contracted puppy buyer back out. These people, however, typically reach out to other breeders to see if they have a waitlist name this puppy can now be assigned to. There are rescue litters that need placement, and you may see these on the feed of a rescue group. Finally… tougher times have fallen on the breeding world in general. The dust from the boom of all the Covid puppies has settled. As predicted, shelters and rescues are overrun with young adult dogs (“I didn’t think it would bite so much/pee so much/ need me so much, etc.”). Mills and backyard breeders have struggled to read the signs and continue to produce more supply than there is demand for. Puppy buyers have become more educated, demanding more of breeders. And within some breeds, preservation/show breeders are finding they need to hold on to puppies a little longer (16 weeks+) to find suitable homes.

It seems, however, there is a sucker born every minute, and Facebook pirates are wise to this. Currently there is an account on Facebook called “Bernese Mountain puppies for Sale. Reputable breeders” (sic) Yes, that is sick, but I’ll leave the name of the page right there for a moment to see if you notice anything amiss. Have you found it?

If you are reading this and English is your first or second language, rule #1 is that cloned or fake accounts are typically not managed by persons for whom English is a primary language. I know we are not all grammar kings and queens, and I’m not sure it’s “cool” to do much proofreading when it comes to social media. However… poor grammar and a clear lack of language command are often glaring indicators of cloned accounts. You would think, for instance, a group promoting reputable breeders would at least have the name of the breed correct.

These scam accounts are not hard to detect, thankfully… that is, if the puppy buyer is willing to work on the principle of delayed gratification and let her fingers do the walking for a hot five seconds. Here is a post on the “personal” feed of one of the moderators from the group we are diving into for our purposes today:

You can do this with any group you belong to on Facebook. Click on the name of the person who has posted. This will bring up a record of everything this member has posted in the goup to date. Just below their name and to the right you will see a little box with three dots (…) in it. Click on this and one of your options will be “View Main Profile”. This is where you can see if you are dealing with a real person or a fake account.

There are two things to look at on a main profile that can quickly shed light on the situation. The first is to look at the person’s photos. While in the main profile, scroll down on the left side until you see the block labeled PHOTOS and click on “see all photos”.

These are the photos from a group moderator’s photo block. And yet group members are contacting this “breeder” and asking questions about available puppies. One messaged me and said they were being pressed hard for a deposit on a puppy.

Next, open the first photo and begin to scroll right. You are looking for comments and likes. The fake accounts often use stolen photos because these can be easily grabbed, but what they cannot repopulate are the likes and comments given to an original photo. Perhaps you see a string of photos with only one or two likes on each photo. Look to see WHO liked the photo. One like?No comments on photos? I don’t know about you, but if I had this little community interaction on social media I would give up! Look, too, for comments and likes from accounts that are clearly from other parts of the world. “Tina Smith” should not have comments and likes only from Algeria.

This person has two accounts on Facebook. (We’ve alerted her to this!) One is her own with 861 Facebook friends, many of whom are BMDCA breeders. But the other account is a cloned account attached to this very Facebook scam group. Do you see how this photo has one thumbs up? That one LIKE belongs to another moderator of the group. They may be one and the same person! And guess what? This is the account on which the photographs from above are found.

Are you beginning to see how it’s not too difficult to spot many of the scammers? Look next at the account’s “LIKES” section. From the main profile, find the tabs just below the account name (Posts, About, Friends, Photos, Videos, etc.) Click on the word “About”. Here you can see what Facebook pages the owner of this account likes. Often, the fake accounts will forget to clean out this section and it is a dead giveaway. Do the LIKES in the photo below seem to belong to the woman pictured above?

Wouldn’t you like to meet this fascinating female breeder of Bernese Mountains? (Oops, I mean of Bernese Mountain Dogs?) Her interests are quite diverse! 😜

You can also click on the FRIENDS tab from the main profile, but many times this list has been made private or hidden. There have been many occasions where I have found an open friend list, however. And from this list, trust me, it is as simple to spot a scam as it is with the photo above.

Finally, trust and rely on information you have received from verifiable online groups and the experts who participate in community discussion there. When you continue to hear the message that responsible breeders should be able to produce for you certifications from the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or are registered in certain breed-specific databases (such as Berner-Garde in the case of Bernese Mountain Dogs) or will not have puppies readily available… believe them! Our breed has produced and circulated some excellent infographics. (See below.) Trust them. There are You Tube Channels available for everything from training to grooming to sourcing a puppy. Trust them.

Trustworthy Advice

There are no shortcuts except those that lead to financial loss. What is the saying? A fool and his money are soon parted? (That’s from a trustworthy source as well.) A few minutes of time is all it takes to suss out the scams. No one blames you… or me… for puppy fever. It’s a very real and debilitating illness. But we have SO many tools at our disposal. So many people with experience and expertise ready and willing to help. Trust me.

Published by: When Life Goes to the Dogs

It was my youngest daughter who introduced me to the Bernese Mountain Dog. That first boy, Hero, set in motion all kinds of crazy love. And now, at the end of the day, I often find myself asking... what do these dogs have that is so special? I'm raising three Berners now, navigating the world of social media for dogs, holistic health and raw feeding. Sherman has become a therapy dog; Zuzu may soon follow in his footsteps. Madi, as I like to say, is still cooking. I guess we all need something to put our hands to that makes us feel like we've made a difference in this world. Believe it or not, these dogs help me do just that.

Categories Breeding, Buying a Puppy, Raising PuppiesTags, , , , Leave a comment

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