How to Spot a Scam

Monday, December 15, 2008

Puppy Scam

Everyone with an e-mail address has received the Nigerian scam e-mail. The scam, sending money to someone who’ll reward your kindness with much, much more money, has been around forever, but the Internet really spread it around.
The L.A. Times reports there’s a twist on this, playing on the desire both for a bargain and to help a puppy in trouble:
The Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc. and the American Kennel Club today will issue a warning about fraudulent websites, MySpace postings and print ads asking people to help save puppies who are in desperate straits.
The sites and ads usually show adorable puppies that somehow have become stuck in Nigeria or other countries, and are offered free to new owners. A variation is to offer the puppies, such as purebred, English bulldogs — a particularly expensive breed — at vastly discounted prices.
But free or not, people who had responded to the ads eventually were asked to send hundreds of dollars to cover such costs as shipping, customs, taxes and inoculations on an ever-escalating scale.
Some reported paying fees totaling more than $1,500.
“It’s like the Nigerian advance-fee scams we’ve been seeing for years, except with the face of a puppy,” said Steve Cox, a council vice president.
No matter how much was paid, no puppies arrived. Even the pictures — showing sad-eyed puppies with folds of skin so loose it looked as if they were wearing bunched-up sweaters — probably were fraudulent, mostly lifted from legitimate websites of unwitting owners

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