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Nigerian Puppy Scam

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.

Read more: Pets, , ,

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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12:12PM PDT on May 14, 2013

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

11:18AM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

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

2:19AM PST on Mar 4, 2013


2:14AM PST on Mar 4, 2013

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!

9:23AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

thank you

1:41PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

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

11:07AM PDT on Oct 30, 2012



10:32AM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

thank you

6:13AM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

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!!

9:51PM PDT on Oct 9, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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