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.
According to ConsumerAffairs.com, 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.