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Scam Uses Cute Puppy Pictures
Beware of thieves using this tactic
Don't let the cuteness fool you!

In a new twist to an old trick designed to separate honest people from their money, a well-known scam in disguise is being targeted at dog lovers. If someone is interested in buying a dog online, they may be vulnerable to this con.

They are offered a dog, often of a rare and expensive breed, at a too-good-to-be-true price, but during the course of transporting the dog to them, additional fees crop up. They may be asked to send $1600 for insurance to ship the puppy or $1000 for vaccinations and a new pet carrier. Requests for food or for emergency veterinary care are sometimes made. Fees as much as $4600 have been requested to spring the puppy out of quarantine. By the time many victims realize that something isn’t right and that the puppy will NEVER be delivered, it’s too late, and any money they have already sent is gone forever.

This pet scam is a type of 4-1-9 scam, the most famous of which is the Nigerian Scam. In that scenario, the criminal contacts potential victims and claims to have a large fortune that needs to be transferred out of Nigeria. They say that in exchange for helping them with the transfer, they will be given a percentage of the millions of dollars. A variety of reasons are given for being unable to do so without help from an overseas partner. Usually, they have to do with legal technicalities related to their position in the government. Once the victim expresses interest, they are told of various fees and expenses required to make the transfer happen. People are often willing to pay a little now for the promise of a large fortune later, which is how they fall prey to the crime. Fees for multiple failed transfers and legal fees only serve to part people from their money.

Beware of all related scams and don’t let adorable puppy pictures cloud your good judgment. As investigators of such crimes often say, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

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