Nigerian Puppy Scam

By now most of us are familiar with Nigerian letter scams that sneak into our in-boxes with statements like, “We respectfully invite your kind attention to the transfer of U.S. $25 million into your personal/company offshore account.” It’s pretty easy to recognize the too-good-to-be-true element there. But how about a Nigerian puppy scam?

The puppy scam is subtle; a cute (really cute, adorably cute) puppy needs a home–it is much more believable than $25 million dollars waiting in your account. In the puppy scam, classified ads are placed in newspapers and online. They promise a free puppy, as long as the victim agrees to pay for shipping–the story usually involves someone who has moved or is moving or resides in another country. In the latest crop of puppy scams, the dog owner is said to reside in Africa. In some cases he says he is an American, serving in the Peace Corps. He promises to send the dog once the victim sends anywhere from $200 to $500 to pay for shipping. Usually there is another request for more money, explaining there were some complications clearing customs. Lots of cute pictures of the said puppy are sent, and once the money wire has been picked up, the puppy-giver disappears.

In order to avoid these types of scams, Phonebusters offers this advice:

Know whom you are dealing with–independently confirm your seller’s name, street, address, and telephone number.

Resist pressure to “act now.” If an offer sounds to good to be true it usually is.

If the buyer wants to use a service you have not heard of, be sure to check it out to be sure it is reliable–check its Web site, call its customer service hotline, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. If you do not feel comfortable with the service, do not use it.

According to, even better advice is to never buy a puppy from anyone other than a local breeder. Shipping a puppy is cruel and inhumane in itself. Buying an animal via the Internet virtually ensures that you are supporting puppy mills. The best place to get a pet is the local pound or shelter!

To read stories by people who have been victims of a puppy scam, visit the pet scam stories page at the ASPCA.

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

What cheeseballs...i'm just thrilled that no actual animals are being exploited!

katarzyna phillips

i can't believe anyone would be so dumb to fool for such a thing! surely ANYONE would want to meet the puppy to check its health before committing to taking it. can it walk properly? is it tick/mite/flea free? these sorts of things you can't tell from a picture. get a puppy from someone you can go and visit a few times, or a shelter or a reputable breeder

Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Pendragon2 years ago


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin2 years ago

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever buy a living, breathing animal on line, no matter how cute! More than 4 million pets are put down every year in the USA. Be a good person and save one or more of these adorable, cute and sweet animals by visiting your local shelter!

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago

thank you

Hannah Morales
Hannah Morales3 years ago

that's bad of them. this info is good to know, thanks.

Aileen C.
Aileen h.3 years ago



Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

thank you

Patti Ruocco
Patti Ruocco3 years ago

Why would you rescue a puppy so far away when there are so many here??

And in this day and age--EVERY charity should be checked out!!

Kelly Rogers
Kelly Rogers3 years ago