Detecting Internet Scams
Before Internet, when one wished to purchase a puppy they were, for the most part, limited to buying locally. Things have changed; the world now relies on the Internet for so many things. People can research the different breeds; a world of options has opened up to be almost endless. This has also opened up new opportunities for scams.
You have decided to bring a new pet into your home; you have researched and read up on all of the pets traits. Next you need to find a breeder, rescue or someone who has what you are looking for.
There are a lot of scammers posing as breeders, pretending to sell fictitious puppies. They take your deposit and you never hear from them again. These scammers are usually running out of foreign countries, posing as USA or Canadian breeders selling adorable little puppies, when in fact they don't even own a dog themselves, let alone have a puppy to sell. The vast majority of breeders advertising puppies for sale are legitimate breeders, however you must keep your guard up for these scam ”breeders.”
How can you tell if the breeder you are dealing with is for real and not one of those scams running out of countries such as Nigeria or other foreign countries?
Most good breeder listings do their best to weed out scams. Granted, they don't always catch the scammers. Ads for scammers do run in the best breeder listings from time to time, but are removed as soon as the scammer is detected. The scammer opens up the ad page with a stolen credit card and it can be very hard to tell that the credit card has been stolen.
Be extra cautious of ads found in free classified ads (sites where it is free to post an ad). One does not have to avoid sites that run free listings, as there are plenty of legit ads on them, however do be extra cautious, as scammers feed on free places to find their prey.
A lot of these scammers create a website or classified ad page to sell their so-called "puppies." They steal images and text off of actual breeder websites. At first glance their websites look really legit. You fall in love with the picture, contact the scammer and begin to talk to them about purchasing the adorable little puppy. Eventually you send them a deposit via usually Western Union, and you suddenly never hear from them again. You never receive your puppy, because there was no puppy, and you just lost your money.
These scammers often steal pictures from the Internet of the most irresistible dogs and puppies and post them for sale. For example, here is a blog on the same deceased Pekingese being sold over and over again: http://ravinwoodfarm.blogspot.com. The dog's name is Hershey and he passed away late 2005.
A good way to determine if a picture of a dog or puppy posted for sale is really for sale, or is simply a stolen picture, is to ask the seller to send you a picture of that same dog or puppy with something in the picture that you can identify, such as a piece of paper with the date written on it, or even with your own name written on it. Beware of doctored pictures, so ask to see different shots of the same dog in different poses with your identifiable object in the picture.
Because these scammers are running out of third-world countries, catching them is difficult to almost impossible. In order for you to prosecute the scammer, the country you are in would have to work with the country they are in. In most cases, the country the scammer is running out of is not willing to cooperate. The cost of prosecuting the scammer is very high and the country you are in will most likely not be willing to fork out the money.
So what can we do about these scams? We can educate ourselves on how to detect them, and not fall for it. If scammers can't scam us, they won’t make money and we all know it's the money that is driving them to do it.
Useful tips on detecting a
scammer posing as a breeder
1. Look at the website very closely for clues. For example, these scammers are stealing pictures from other websites and adding their own descriptions under them. One website pretending to sell Beagle puppies had a photo of a dog that was clearly not a Beagle puppy. They also had photos of male puppies and under the photo claimed the dog to be a female or vice versa.
2. Ask to see more photos of the same puppy from different angles. Ask to see a picture of the same puppy when it was a few weeks younger. Can the breeder produce them?
3. One reason these scam websites look so legit is because they are stealing text from real breeder websites. Copy and paste a sentence or two from the site in question into a Google search with quotes around the text, for example, if they have a list of references. The quotes tell Google to look for those exact words in the same order as you have typed them. If you find another website with those same exact words on it, a red flag should go up. Either the site you are investigating has stolen the words, OR they have had their words stolen from them.
4. If the website has its own domain name and is not a free website such as GeoCities, etc., take the domain name address and go to www.DNSstuff.com.
Put the domain name into the "WHOIS Lookup." Does the country in the domain name record match the address the website has as their contact info? Keep in mind, hosting companies are often within the same country as the site owner, but not necessarily inside the same state or town. They rarely, if ever, however use a company outside their own country.
5. Does the website have a phone number down as a contact? And if so, have you been able to speak to a real person? Most scammers will not get on the phone. One, because their English is very bad, and two, the phone bill would be very high since they are in a different country than you are. Also, with caller ID, they do not want to take the risk you can tell they are not out of the area they claim to be out of. Some of these scammers pretend to be deaf or have another odd reason why they cannot talk, getting a relay operator to relay their messages for them. Relay operators are not allowed to reveal it is a scam. By law they can only relay the message without giving their own input.
6. Take the area code of the phone number listed on the site and enter it into the Reverse Area Code. Does the area match the area the breeder claims to be out of?
7. Copy and paste the email contact info into a Google search. Does anything else come up under that email address? A lot of times nothing will come up, and that really does not tell you anything. However, from time to time you will get results under an email address. Look at the results and where else this email address has appeared Internet. Looking at the Google cached pages can be helpful in viewing expired ad pages. Sometimes you will discover the same email address has claimed to be in many different areas of a country. For example, one email address may appear selling English Bulldog puppies out of New York State in the USA and also appear selling puppies in California inside the USA. This is a clear warning sign of a scam.
8. Does the "breeder" you have contacted communicate in broken English? Since most of these scammers are working out of foreign countries, their English is not very good. They will usually have many spelling and grammar errors in their emails.
9. A red flag should go up if the scammer will only take their payment via Western Union, or another odd form of payment.
10. If the breeder emails you look at the long header of the email for the "received from" IP number. Look up the IP number to see the area the email came from.
If you have a bad feeling about a "breeder," it is best to steer clear. Go elsewhere for your purchase. If you use your common sense and do not ignore any warning signs, you can usually tell if it is a real breeder on the other end. Let’s not contribute to a scammer’s booming business.
Examples of Scams
From Scammer (Seller)
Subject: Re:Yorkie puppy
*Thanks for your interest in my pet. The little puppy is* still very much available for adoption. This little girl Yorkie Puppy is 2.4lbs at 12 weeks* he is potty trained* and very* friendly with children he fit in the palm of your* hand.he* AKC registered* puppy ..Adorable and sociable* with great Personalities and* very good bloodlines.he* vet-checked, up to date on shots and* deforming, and are* health guaranteed.. All the papers will accompany the puppy,But right now i am in The Central Great Lake Of Cameroon on a Christian* mission* with my Family and* we have the puppy right here with* us.we are going to ship to you via* express delivery on* next day delivery after shipment through a shipping* agent, you.Please if you know* that you are not going to take very* good care* of my* baby, do** not reply me because i am giving her on adoption* because* of bad condition or anything i am only giving this puppy out* because we don't have time to take care of the puppy* again due
to the mission work before us here. he will be* going for free.The lovely puppy will come along with all her necessary* health paper work like......
Akc/Nkc/Fci Registered Paper
One Year health Guarantee
health Insurance Paper
Toys And Foods
so right now email me asap with the answers to the following questions so that i should see if you will rather take good care of this baby or not so email me with:
1) Are you a breeder?
2) Are you married?
3) Do you have kids?
4) Have you ever had a puppy before?
5) What is your occupation?
6) Will you send me pictures of the puppy when you have her?
7) Do you have a vet you will take the puppy to?
8) And will you treat her as your children?
9) Give me a Brief Description about your Environment ?
10) Will you have Enough time to spend and Play with them?
11) Were are you located?
Sorry for too many question,but i just want to be sure that my puppy will be going to the right home.so will be waiting to read back from your soonest mail. And below are the pictures of Tina is that ok by you?waiting to read back from your soonest mail.
God Bless You.
Hello and thank you for your quick response as well
I do have a few questions myself first.
This little girl Yorkie Puppy is 2.4lbs at 12 weeks* he is-Which is it? ..a he or a she?
potty trained-at 12 weeks? THAT IS A MIRACLE!
going for free-I will not even respond to this. I read the first few lines and knew it was a scam.
I am aware of the website you stole these adorable pictures from as I and a few others belong to quite a few rescue groups. I will inform them and Craigs list that you are using them to run a scam. Also be aware that you are being reported for fraud. Mission? Your next one will be in a jail cell. Nice try sweetheart.
AND another one ...
Where are you located Glen? I am Beth by the way. VERY INTERESTED. Would get the baby fixed of course and are any shots been given? Gotten quite a few responses overnight too the ad but my mind keeps going back to your puppies.
sorry for the late reply , we are located in Cameroon if you are will to take one of my puppies you have to pay just for the shipping which is going to cost you 400R for one puppy to be shipped to your location and they have taken all their shots so if you are still in need of them then get back to me as soon as possibel so that we can see how you can have them
thanks waiting on you ...
Sounds like a scam. And I already got a puppy this weekend thanks. Will turn you in just to make sure.
From Scammer (Seller)
Cute and lovely Pomeranian puppy for a home.
We have a lovely Pomeranian puppy for a home.This puppy is vet checked and has just been vaccinated.This puppy also likes to play with kids,adults and other house hold pets.Contact us for more details if interested to have this lovely puppy to your home.
From Scammer (Seller)
On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 1:50 AM, Wendy Simpson firstname.lastname@example.org; wrote:
Calvary greetings to you, Thanks for your interest in my lovely baby and .She is still very much available for new home.She is 12 weeks old,presently and She is AKC registered and her shots are given up to date,she is vet checked and potty trained.All her papers will accompany her, But right now i am in africa on a Christain mission with my wife and we have her right here with us.We are going to ship her to you via Express pets delivery on next day delivery after shippment through a shipping agent , i am leaving her for $200 Including shipping.If you are interested in having her, i want you to get back to me with your fullname,address including the nearest airport to you.Please if you know that you are not going to take very good care of my baby do not reply me because i am only giving her out becuase we dont have time to take care of her again due to the mission work before us here.Await your response.
This sounds too good, so I have a few questions.
1. Do you have x-rays or has this dog, or parents, been certified hip dysplasia free?
2. What kind of health guarantee is there? What about a quarantine for animals coming into this country?
3. Have the parents had cherry eye, and does this puppy show any signs of it? It usually does not show up until 3-5 months.
4. How much is the shipping to Phx, AZ?
5. Could you e-mail me copies of all papers?
6. If all terms are exceptable I would have you ship C.O.D. only.
From Scammer (Seller)
Thanks for your response i want you to know that am so happy to read back from you and i want you to prmise me that you will be taking a very good care of my puppy as soon as you recieve her at your location,Regarding the shippment you will have to get back to me with your shipping information such as your full name address phone# and the nearest airport to you for delivery the puppy will be shipped out via AAAA cargo and you will be making the payment for the shippment via money gramm transfer directly to the shipping agent that will be incharge of the shipping and as soon as the payment is confirmed your upcoming family member will be shipped out asap on next day delivery.
From a puppy buyer who was
On 08/26/05 I e-mailed
who appeared in the English bulldog breeders list, for information about his
On 08/27/05 he contacted me back with information and pictures about a
puppy. He mentioned he had auditive problems and couldn’t use the phone.
He has the Vietnam Veterans of America and POW/MIA Committee logos in all
On 08/28/05 I e-mailed him back asking more questions about the puppy. This
same day he answered back saying she was an 8 week puppy.
On 08/29/05 I e-mailed him about my interest in buying the puppy and asking
about the process to buy her.
On 08/30/05 he e-mailed back his name, address, and saying that the payment
for the amount of $1000 had to be done via western union.
On 08/31/05 I e-mailed my concern about internet scams and asked if my
friend who lives in Chicago could go by his house to check everything out.
He answered the same day stating he was a 67 year old retiree and was home
everyday so she could go by at any time. Because I was moving from Boston
to Virginia at the same time, and because he answered like this, I never got
around to actually having my friend go by.
On 09/01/05 I e-mailed him that I was in the process of having my mom
transfer the money from San Juan, Puerto Rico to him. He e-mailed back on
09/02/05 reminding me to send him the MTCN number from Western Union and the
name and address of the sender in order for him to pick up the money. He
also reminded me to send him the information of the airport were he had to
send the puppy. He was supposed to send the dog to Virginia were I was
moving to. On this e-mail he added a link to his web-site:
On 09/03/05 I e-mailed him the information to pick up the money in a Western
Union in Chicago,IL. The MTCN number was 000-000-0000. The sender was 'xxxxxxx',
and the address was: 'xxxxxxxxxxxxx'.
He e-mailed back
the same day stating he would pick up the money the next Monday (09/05/05)
and e-mail me back the information of were to pick up the puppy. After that
e-mail on Saturday 3rd, I never heard back from him. I’ve
e-mailed everyday but no answer. I called Western Union and he picked up
the money that same day (09/03/05).
Subject: i have some dogs i want to sell
I am Mr Jonh Badmus by name i stay in the state, i just want
to notify you that i have some dogs i want to sell, i mean all kinds
of dogs such as Affenpinscher puppies,Airedale Terrier puppies,Akita
puppies,Afghan Hound puppies,Akbash puppies,Alapaha Blue Blood
Bulldog puppies,Alaskan Malamute puppies,Basenji puppies,Beagle
puppies,Belgian Malinois puppies,Borzoi puppies,Bull Terrier
puppies,Bullmastiff puppies,Belgium Mastiff puppies, Bichon Frise
puppies ,Cairn Terrier puppies,Canaan Dog puppies,Chihuahua
puppies,Chinese Foo Dog puppies,Cirneco Dell Etna puppies,Catahoula
Leopard Dog puppies,Clumber Spaniel puppies,Dalmatian
puppies,Dachshund puppies,Dogue de Bordeaux puppies,Doberman
Pinscher puppies,English Bulldog puppies,English Cocker Spaniel
puppies, English Toy Spaniel puppies ,English Springer Spaniel
puppies,Field Spaniel puppies,Finnish Spitz puppies, Flat-Coated
Retriever puppies ,Fox Terrier-Wire puppies ,German Shepherd
puppies,German Wirehaired Pointer puppies,Golden Retriever puppies,
Great Pyrenees puppies,Greyhound puppies,Great Dane puppies,Harrier
puppies,Havanese puppies,Ibizan Hound puppies,Irish Terrier
puppies,Irish Setter puppies,Irish Water Spaniel puppies,Jack
Russell Terrier puppies,Japanese Chin puppies,Keeshond
puppies,Komondor puppies,Kerry Blue Terrier puppies, Lhasa Apso
puppies ,Leonberger puppies,Labrador Retriever puppies,Maltese
puppies,Manchester Terrier puppies,Maremma Sheepdog puppies,Mi-Ki
puppies,Newfoundland puppies,Neapolitan Mastiff puppies,Norfolk
Terrier puppies, Norwegian Buhund puppies ,Old English Sheepdog
puppies,Otterhound puppies,Papillon puppies,Pembroke Welsh Corgi
puppies, Pekingese puppies ,Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppies,Rat Terrier
puppies,Redbone Coonhound puppies,Rottweiler puppies,Scottish
Terrier puppies,Shetland Sheepdog puppies,Soft Coated Wheaten
Terrier puppies,Saint Bernard puppies, Saluki puppies ,Tenterfield
Terrier puppies,Tibet an Terrier puppies,Toy Poodle puppies,Tibetan
Spaniel puppies,Vizsla puppies,Weimaraner puppies,Welsh Terrier
puppies,Whippet puppies, Welsh Springer Spaniel puppies ,Xoloitzcuintli
puppies,Yorkshire Terrier puppies etc please if you are intrested in
buying the dogs you can please mail me with this email address
YOU MAY BE SURPRISE BUT IT WAS OUT OF MY DESIRE TO SHARE THIS MUTUAL PROPOSAL
WITHYOU, I GOT YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS THROUGH MY RANDOM INTERNET SEARCH.
MY NAME IS MR.ABINART RHODES A GENERAL SECRETARY IN INTER CAPITAL SECURITIES
COMPANY HERE IN NIGERIA THERE IS A CONSIGNMENT CONTAINING A SUM OF
(12,000,000.00USD)TWELVE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS DEPOSITED IN OUR COMPANY
FOR SAFE KEEPING BY ONE MR. GUEI WALTER BEFORE HIS DEATH, NO ONE HAS COME TO
CLAIM THIS CONSIGNMENT AS A BENEFICIARY TILL DATE.
I AM HONORABLY SEEKING FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE AS
(1) I WANT YOU TO ACT AS A BENEFICIARY
(2) I WANT YOU TO PROVIDE A BANK ACCOUNT WHERE THIS
MONEY WILL BE TRANSFERRED
I WILL PROVIDE YOU THE ENTIRE NECESSARY DOCUMENT FOR THIS CONSIGNMENT TO PROVE
THE CONSIGNEE AS A BENEFICIARY TO THE COMPANY, 40% OF TOTAL AMAOUNT MAPPED OUT
FOR YOU WHILE THE 60% MAPPED OUT FOR ME.
IF YOU ARE OKAY WITH MY CONDITION DO NOT HESITATE TO SEND ME -MAIL
(email@example.com) SO THAT I CAN FURNISH YOU UP WITH ALL THE
INFORMATION NEEDED, I WISH TO HEAR FROM YOU SOON.
THANKS FOR YOUR COOPERATION
Scammer: FOR YOUR KIND ATTENTION.
It is my great pleasure to write you this letter on behalf of my colleagues.
I got your information from a personal search in the internet business index.
I have decided to seek a confidential co-operation with you in execution of a
deal hereunder for the benefit of all parties, and hope you will keep it
confidential because of the nature of this business.
I am the Secretary of the Contract Review Panel instituted by H. E. President
Olusegun Obasanjo to probe/review all Contracts executed and payments made
during the regime of late General Sani Abacha. I have been mandated by my
colleagues on the Panel to seek your assistance in the transfer of the sum of
US$31.0 Million into your Bank Account.
As you may know, the late General Abacha and members of his government embezzled
billions of dollars through spurious contracts and payments to foreigners
between 1993 - 1998 and this is now the subject of probe by my Panel. In the
course of our review, we have discovered this sum of $31.0 Million, which the
former dictator could not transfer from the dedicated account of the Central
Bank of Nigeria before his sudden death in June 1998. It is this amount that my
Colleagues and I have decided to acquire for ourselves through your assistance.
This assistance becomes crucial because we cannot acquire the funds in our names
and as government officials we are not allowed to own or operate foreign bank
accounts. We have thus developed a, fool proof, legal and totally risk free
scheme through which the fund can be transferred to your nominated bank account
within a very short time.
The scheme is to use our position and influence on the Panel to represent you as
a foreign Contractor beneficiary of the funds. We shall arrange all
documentation to support this claim and get Approval for the transfer of the
funds for your benefit on our behalf. The scheme is perfected to be 100% risk
free and we are sure the funds can arrive your Account within
7 - 10 working days from when you agree to assist us.
You should acknowledge the receipt of my letter through my email address so we
can further discuss the modalities of your cooperation and negotiate the charge
for the usage of your Account. You definitely have a lot to benefit from this
transaction as we are prepared to give you 25% of the total funds as soon as you
secure it in your account.
Please, endeavor to give me a telephone/fax number through which we can
communicate with you in confidence (in your response) as the need for secrecy is
great to this transaction.
We expect your urgent response.
Scammer: Calvary greetings to you in the name of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I am Mrs. Juliet Andreas, named person from Switzerland. I am married to Late
Dr. Andreas Dominic of blessed memory who worked with Switzerland embassy for
nine years before he died in the year 2000. We were married for eleven years
without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.
Before his death we were both very devoted Christians.
Since his death I too have been battling with both cancer and fibroid problems.
When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $17.5 Million (Seventeen
Million Five hundred thousand U.S. Dollars) with Barclays Bank of Ghana vault
with a special arrangement in their vault.
Endeavour to contact me, so that I can link you up with the Barrister involve.
The barrister and my late husband has been able to use their contact to make
this fund to Barclays Bank on a special arrangement.
So feel free to contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org . The barrister's name is
Barrister Adegbesan Tunde Melvin. He will furnish you more details on how to
receive this fund smoothly.
Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next three months due
to cancer problem. Though what disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.
Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to either a Christian
organization or devoted Christian individual that will utilize this money the
way I am going to instruct here-in. I want this Christian organization or
individual to use this money in all sincererity to fund churches, orphanages,
widows and also propagating the word of GOD and to ensure that the society
upholds the views and beliefs of the holy inspired and infallable word of God
which is the Bible.
The holy Bible emphasized so much on GOD's benevolence and this has encouraged
me to take this bold step. I took this decision because I don't have any child
that will inherit this money and my husband's relatives are new Muslim convert
and I don't want my husband's hard earned money to be misused by people I call
unbelievers. I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an unholy
manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I know that after death
I will be with GOD the omnipotent, the omniscience and the omnipresent. I don't
need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health and also
the presence of my husband's relatives around me always.
I don't want them to know about this evelopment. With GOD, all things are
possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the
Bank i.e. Barclay's Bank of Ghana. I will also issue you a letter of authority
that will prove you as the original - beneficiary of this fund.
I want you and the Christian community where you reside to always pray for me.
My happiness is that I lived a life of a true devoted Christian worthy of
emulation. Whoever that wants to serve GOD, must serve him in truth and in
fairness. Please always be prayerful all through your life.
Until I hear from you, my dreams will rest squarely on your shoulders.
May the almighty GOD continue to guide and protect you.
Mrs. Juliet Andreas
i am michel Mobutu Sese-Seko, wife of the late President Mobutu Sese-Seko of
former Zaire, now Congo Democratic Republic. My family and I now live in exile,
in Morocco. I believe you are aware through the International press how the
European Government froze my late husband bank accounts. Recently the French
Government confiscated my father's Chateaux in South of France. In view of this,
my family and I are afraid to make any investment without a front. In this line,
therefore, it is the wish of my family to solicit for a trustworthy and sincere
person who will invest these fund under trusteeship. I am interested in making
an enormous investment worth US$12Million in some parts of the world of which
will be beneficiary to both parties SOURCE OF FUND. Before the death of my late
husband, he deposited the above stated funds with a security Firm here in
Amsterdam. Hence I am in asylum here in lome. Therefore, I intend to have a
front who will manage this funds and invest it into property development, buying
of sharesstock in Multinational Companies and engage in non speculative
investments and other related ventures.As soon as I hear from you I will then
aarrange a face-to-face meeting for us to deliberate on this investment. It will
also give me the opportunity to assess your capability of handling this
investment. Please, I will like you to send me your private telephone/fax
numbers to allow me discuss privately.Meanwhile, reach me on the above email
address. Kindly treat this matter with utmost confidentiality.
michel Mobutu Sese-Seko
Within the USA - If you have been a victim to a similar
scam contact your
Secret Service Agent. It is very important to save the documents with full
headers. They are useless with out the ISP header.
If you have been scammed be sure to find a
site on the net that will let you report it. There are many out there and you
can find them by doing a Google search.