In 2020, the Better Business Bureau received over 4,000 complaints from online pet scams in the US and Canada. Bichon puppies as well as many other breeds were involved.
Scammers will have websites with pictures stolen from legitimate websites of puppies they are allegedly selling. These “breeders” generally will not talk on the phone or give you their address and will do all correspondence by e-mail. They will not allow you to come see a puppy and insist on shipping the puppy to you.
The buyer is required to pay for the puppy before shipping, but payment is made through a cash app like Venmo or Zelle. Some will even ask you to buy gift cards and take a picture of the front and back of it and to e-mail the pictures to them which they then can use to buy merchandise. After the initial payment is received, the scammer will ask for additional money for a crate, airfare, transporter fee, etc. Ultimately, the buyer will pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, but no puppy will be shipped, and the scammer will disappear.
When looking for a puppy, do your homework. The Bichon Frise Club of Canada has a breeder referral section on this website. Check with friends who have a nice bichon and ask where they got their puppy. If searching online, find breeders who give their name, phone number, e-mail address, and or city / state. Ask for pictures of the mother and father plus a video of the puppy or the litter of puppies, if still young. (Most scammers won’t provide videos). If the price is much less than normal, it should be a red flag.
Although you may have to pay a deposit for a legitimate breeder to hold a puppy for you until they are old enough to go to your home, you should never pay the full price of a puppy until you have actually seen it and are satisfied with it. To get a quality bichon puppy, you will likely have to wait. Most good breeders have a waiting list, but waiting a few weeks or months for a quality healthy bichon is well worth it.