Dog lovers should be suspicious of anyone promising to ship them free purebred puppies from the African continent or any foreign country, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns. The offer usually arrives in the form of an email and now radio advertising is cropping up as a venue for this scam.
The BBB says the thieves typically agree to ship American Kennel Club-registered puppies in exchange for help in paying the cost of transporting the animals. But once the money is wired to the bogus sellers, no puppies are delivered and the money is gone.
A BBB investigator who responded to the e-mails was offered two free 10-week-old English bulldog puppies in return for sharing the cost of transporting them.
“We have the puppies right here with us,” said the writer, who identified himself as Pastor David Sanchez, a missionary who recently was relocated to Africa. “I’m willing to give the babies out to someone who can take very good care of them for me forever.”
The puppy scam first surfaced in the U.S. about four years ago and usually depended on ads on Internet sites like Craigslist and in newspapers. While radio advertising appears to be a new twist, the scam remains basically the same. Purebred animals like these are in high demand and can be quite expensive. For somebody to offer them for free simply doesn’t make sense.
In May 2007, the BBB joined with the American Kennel Club to warn about the puppy scam. “Because of the emotional investment, consumers are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of when it comes to a cute cuddly puppy than with any other purchase,” an AKC spokesperson said.
The scammer who claimed to have the bulldog puppies said in a recent e-mail that he had just moved to Africa and the region’s climate was not conducive to raising the animals. “I don’t want Bella and Max to die in this bad weather.” The writer also sent photographs of two bulldog puppies.
The recent scammer initially asked that a $450 Western Union wire transfer be sent to a recipient in Nigeria, to pay to ship the dogs. But when the BBB investigator balked, the writer lowered the payment to $150. Similar puppies are advertised on the Internet for $750 to $1,500 each.
The BBB suggests that media representatives be wary of accepting any ads for free or low-cost puppy adoptions from anyone outside the U.S. These are almost always scams.
The BBB also advises that persons shopping for pets not be enticed by such offers, especially if they are asked to wire money to Africa or a foreign country. Don’t be rushed into making a decision and don’t be fooled by touching stories or photos of animals, says the BBB. It is always best to deal with known, reputable businesses, or visit a shelter.
Persons with questions or who would like Reliability Reports on businesses should contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or at 208-342-4649.
About the BBB
The BBB is a non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free business Reliability Reports, dispute resolution services, charity wise-giving reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.