Finding the perfect family member to adopt is difficult enough without the hassles of Internet scam artists.
For weeks, Jeremy and Shelli Ajeti have searched for an English Bulldog puppy. Classifieds –print and electronic – were scoured and pored over almost nightly.
“Then, I came across an ad on Craigslist from a woman in Boise who said she had a boy and a girl,” Shelli says. “It was perfect.”
The couple wrote immediately, expressing their excitement, compassion and aspiration to own a bulldog puppy. Their inbox was flooded with gorgeous brown and white dog pictures. And, a note saying the owner had moved to Montana.
Legitimate-looking websites and classified ads entice pet shoppers with cute puppy pictures, detailed descriptions, and below-average prices.
For Shelli Ajeti, this was only the beginning of the nightmare struggle to find a pet. Three times the couple responded to listings, only to be disappointed when it was discovered it was a scam.
Typically in the Internet classified scam, when a shopper contacts the seller and attempts to buy the pup, he or she is directed to wire money – typically MoneyGram or Western Union – to complete paperwork and secure shipping, pay for insurance.
Buyers then receive emails that contain shipping receipts, animal crate numbers, flight numbers and times, and other seemingly genuine information.
Unfortunately, there are ; and flight information and courier names are rarely verifiable. BBB reports show that these scammers will go so far as to claim that animals have arrived locally, but cannot be released until further processing fees are paid by wire transfer.
For Shelli Ajeti, the listing person promised delivery, but never showed. A second listing said they were in Utah, but when asked to stop and see the puppies, he would not respond. A third person listed the pups in Utah, but it turned out to be they were in Minnesota.
When purchasing puppies online, there are several things to consider:
- Beware of unreasonably low prices; check the American Kennel Club website for proper rates.
- Be cautious of sellers that only accept wire transfer payments.
- Look for spelling and grammatical errors on websites and in emails; this is a common red flag in overseas scams.
- Always seek complete contact information and avoid sellers that are unable or unwilling to offer it.
Good breeders should be more concerned with placing animals in good homes than getting paid; walk away from transactions that seem suspicious.
Jeremy and Shelli found a cute little boy puppy in Blackfoot. Destiny Saenz started with 10 puppies for sale, but was down to two when Shelli visited.
“It was a long and difficult search,” she says, “but worth it.”