So my home is run by a border collie named Kiara, and like a lot of dog lovers, when I’m around her I act, well, stupid. Baby dog, silly faces, big sloppy hugs, you know the routine. Well, it turns out con artists are well aware that a quick way to get us to turn off our brains is to show us a cute puppy.
This week, the Better Business Bureau and the American Kennel Club issued a joint warning about a couple of new K-nine centric Internet scams. In one, the scammer set up fake Web sites to dupe you into thinking they’re bulldog breeders. We asked the bureau’s Alison Preszler to tell us about the second.
They will post ads in the classifieds saying that their missionaries and they’re in Nigeria and their poor bulldog puppy just can’t handle the heat, and they just wanna find a good home for their baby, they like to call their baby, and, you know, they’re not gonna charge anyone for the dog, but they want people to pay maybe 350 bucks for shipping the dog to the States.
You wire them the money and guess what? Snookums never arrives. In other words, it’s that old Nigerian Internet scam plus puppies. Preszler says, hundreds of people have fallen for these tactics losing thousands of dollars at a time.
You will send them $250. They’ll say, great we got the money, unfortunately the dog is stuck in Customs and I need $200 more to get the dog shots and to get the dog out of Customs and to pay more fees, and as long as they keep getting money from you, they’ll keep going back and trying to get more and more.
It’s tough to seek the authorities on these scammers since they operate under fake names with fake e-mail addresses. So, how to protect yourself?
First lesson to learn is never wire money to someone you don’t know. Once you wire someone money, it’s gone and you can’t get it back. Another lesson is if you do want a pure-bred dog, try and go with a local breeder, someone that you can actually go to their facilities to make sure you can actually meet the dog first. Often, you wanna ask for references. Do your research.
Oh, and one positive note: No actual dogs were harmed in the perpetration of these scams, just wallets.
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