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Monday, October 16, 2006

Beware "Free" Pets Scams

I'm happy to report that the Herald has added a $1.99 surcharge to pets-for-sale ads on the website: It's one way of discouraging scammers claiming to have animals for sale or free, who take your money and never deliver a critter.

We've gotten e-mail from several people who've fallen victim to this fraud, which I call "Son of Nigerian Bank Scam." You know that one: someone claiming to have millions needs your help - and a few hundred or thousand of your cash - to help move his money around. For this assistance, he'll cut you in for a big, fat percentage. Incredibly, otherwise sane people fall for this, and end up losing a fortune.

Here's part of an e-mail to the newspaper from someone who nearly got scammed:

I was online searhing for a Yorkie to buy and all the ones that I looked at had
the same contact number with different names or had a fake contact number. So what I did was e-mail these ads telling them I was interested in these Yorkie puppies. I’d say I contacted up to six or seven of these people. I got e-mail responses back [from] all different names and e-mail address but they all had the same exact stories.

The website ads that have snagged some unsuspecting buyers have certain red flags: They're practically illiterate. They promise a free pet but will charge for shipping. Some originate in Cameroon, and many try to play the "Good Christian" card.

Now think about it: Why would anyone in the continental U.S. need to get a Yorkie or English Bulldog or macaw shipped from West Africa? Who offers a puppy that usually costs $400-$600 for free? What relevance is religion to buying a pet?

Here's what some of the ads look like:

For a "free" bulldog puppy: The baby is lovely playfull and never mean at anyone,she gets well with other pets and perfect friendmaker.Very affectionate towards children and other pets with a Current vaccinations,vet exam,health certificate from a licensed vet and a written guarantee of health( 1yr).recently checked by a licensed Vet Doctor for heart, knees,skin,correct bite and eyes.I have been feeding her maily on Kibbles,dry dog food and fresh water.and are akc and ckc registered also thier worming records and health...

And this: Two litters 10 days apart 7 little bullies in all. 3 girls and 4 boys. ACK registered Vet checked with shots and wormed. Only intrested buyers please.Im a rev resident in the US FLORIDER but im now on a mission as a missionary in CAMEROON taking care of one center known as the CHILDCARE CENTER OF MARY.i came here with my bulldog and she has just given birth to 7pups,3girls and giving them out for christains and pets loving homes and i need only the money for shipping them to you

Do NOT get involved with these people! If you must have a purebred dog, there are plenty of legitimate breeders in Florida (and every other state) who will sell you one. Better yet, go online and find a rescue group for the breed you want. And even better than THAT, go to a shelter and save a life. I've said before that I have nothing against purebreds - in fact I have one - but there is really no need to spend hundreds, maybe thousands, on an animal when you can get anything you could possibly want at a shelter or through a rescue group.

The Herald is trying hard to rid our site of scammers; the public needs to do its part by refusing to be sucked in by these jerks. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, IT PROBABLY IS!


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