Pet shipping scams can happen to anyone!
Just because there is a photo of a cute puppy (or other animal) and a promise to ship it does not mean there is a puppy! Scammers play on your emotions. When purchasing an animal from a breeder, broker, or a third party make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company.
There are many legitimate websites offering pets and other animals for sale and animal transportation services, there are also many scams on the Internet. What used to be “puppy scams” has grown to include birds, monkeys, horses and all other types of animals.
SOME INFO ABOUT SCAMS – THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Puppies are being offered for sale and these puppies don’t even exist!
What the scammers tell you is the pet is being transported by a specific company who also may or may not exist. If the company does exist, they may not even be aware that their company is listed as the shipping company. The unsuspecting buyer completes the payment for the puppy via Western Union or other type of transaction that will not allow the unsuspecting buyer any money back. Then the still unsuspecting buyer calls XYZ company to find out when their puppy will arrive. The XYZ company has never heard of the seller/breeder who sold the puppy and has no connection to them. These puppies are offered at below breeder rates to entice the buyer. Buyer beware! If if sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
Do not be misled by those who claim to be charitable or religious organizations, pastors or sisters who will give you a puppy if you’ll just pay for the shipping and handling.
Fraudulent websites that were blatantly copied from legitimate websites, irrespective of any copyrights or trademark protection.
Ads being put in local papers so it appears that you are buying a puppy (or a bird) locally and ads being posted on legitimate websites.
Buyers being given booking information confirming that their new puppy is being shipped on ABC airline. The booking information may be fraudulent and, even if it’s authentic, a “booking” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually shipping a puppy. Often the airline in question doesn’t even fly to that country!
Buyers wanting to send a cashier’s check for more money than is required so you can make a payment to their shipping agent for transport of the pet. You deposit the cashier’s check and send the overpayment to the shipping agent only to find out from your bank later that the cashier’s check was bogus and you are held liable for repayment of the full amount.
Puppies from Cameroon or Nigeria (or other countries) who are supposedly already being shipped to the new owner who then gets an email saying that the veterinary officials in a third country need additional money before the puppy can continue being shipped. This does not happen in the real world. A veterinary official in a country that the pet is being shipped through does NOT confiscate a shipment and hold it until money is paid.
Many of the scams involve the toy breeds, usually requires that money be sent urgently by Western Union to avoid euthanasia of the pet, and often the pets are located in Nigeria, Cameroon or Benin though we are seeing more and more scams surfacing in what used to be considered fairly “safe” countries (i.e., the U.K., USA, etc.) Often members of the clergy or relief / rescue workers are offering a pet because they can’t keep it, begging for a good home before the puppy is euthanized.
OFTEN THE SCAMMER OFFERS TO:
Ship within 24 hours of payment (which is impossible due to the time required to obtain import license and veterinary health certificates)
Ship from an international location to your doorstep for $250 or $350 (generally it costs more to ship a puppy internationally than it does for your plane ticket between two international locations plus you would need to purchase a travel kennel. You can NEVER expect to pay only $250-$350 for an international shipment.)
WHERE TO REPORT INTERNET SCAMS:
Scams using the IPATA logo or name
You can lodge a complaint with www.ic3.gov. (They work with the FBI and 2 other agencies to combat internet crime.)
http://www.terrificpets.com/scams/ (listed scammers email addresses)
Also file a complaint with the scammer’s Embassy in your country. But make sure that you file it with the “right” country’s embassy! Just because a scammer says they are located in the UK, does not mean they are! Often they will say they are located in one country but give you a phone number in another. If they give you a phone number, check the first 2 or 3 numbers of the phone number (which should include the international country code) against http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/Reverse-Lookup.php to confirm that the country where the phone number is located. Then, go to http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/directory.htm and look up the embassy locations for that country.
David Landers DVM
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