Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Online puppy scam

Not in fact an animal welfare problem (these are fictitious pups), but worth flagging up because the scammers seem to be targeting legitimate animal welfare organisations and trying to get them to advertise the puppies as pets needing good homes. Anyone who responds to the adverts is asked to send money in advance to pay for transport expenses (which is how the scammers make their money). Being featured on a trusted organisation's website is a way to catch people who know enough to be suspicious of unsolicited emails or adverts on obviously commercial sites.

Nigerian pet scam
How it works: Scammers either run online classified ads or create breeder Web sites offering purebred puppies -- typically English bulldogs or Yorkshire terriers -- either free or at a discounted price.

The story can vary as to why the animal is free or discounted -- the current owner is a missionary who needs to find the puppy a new home due to the terrible weather in its current location; the animal was rescued from a natural disaster and needs a good home, etc.

The scammer will then ask interested buyers to pay for the dog's shipment, down payment, inoculations and any number of other miscellaneous fees. The victims wire money for the dogs but generally only get excuses for the delay. Instead, they're repeatedly asked for more money to cover additional "fees" invented by the scammer.
Never buy a puppy over the Internet "sight unseen". A reputable breeder will want to meet you in person to check that you are a suitable person to care for their precious puppy.

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