Puffer Law and Legal Definition

Puffer is an auction related term. It refers to a person appointed by the seller to bid on property, solely for the purpose of stimulating genuine buyers at an auction sale. A puffer attends an auction by arrangement with the vendor to bid and raise the price.

For centuries, the propriety of undisclosed agents bidding at auction on behalf of sellers has been a matter of dispute. These undisclosed agents have been known over the years by colorful nicknames such as "puffers," "by-bidders," "cappers," "decoy ducks," and "white bonnets." Puffers lack an intention to purchase when they bid. They bid to stimulate higher bidding by others attending the auction. The United States Supreme Court has described bids cast by such puffers or by-bidders as "fictitious," in contrast to "real" bids cast by bona fide bidders. [Stormy Weathers v. FDIC, 834 F. Supp. 519 (D.N.H. 1993)].