We’ve been talking about getting a dog for a while. We figured we’d wait until the kids were a bit older and, all of sudden, we realized that they were already older (7 and 10) and that if we didn’t get a dog soon they’d go much of their childhood without one. Camila, in particular, has been asking for a dog for a LONG time. Last year I promised her I’d get her one if she didn’t whine until the summer. She actually managed to do that (though I had to remind her each time). The weekend before last, for some reason Mike told her that we could get a dog now – so I started looking.
The kids didn’t care too much about what type of dog we got, but I was pretty adamant that it had to be cute. For me, that meant no mutts (let’s be honest, most of them are ugly), no hounds or other skinny dogs and no small dogs – they are just too precious. Going through the breeds of dogs that I could actually find around here, I ended up deciding it had to be a Goldern or Labrador retriever, a German or Australian Shepherd, a Siberian Husky or a Border collie. I had originally wanted a grown dog – so I wouldn’t have to house train it – but Mike wanted a puppy or a young dog, so that’s what I started to look for.
I first started looking on Petfinder, a wonderful website that lists adoptable pets from shelters and rescue groups throughout the country (and more important, the Bay Area). But I quickly realized my chances of finding a dog with those characteristic were minimal. Plus the rescue groups, in particular, have pretty onerous adoption processes that include “thorough” questionnaires and home visits, I definitely didn’t want to bother with that. Plus adoption “donations” for these groups can be as high as $250!
My next place to look was Craigslist. Some shelters advertise here, but there are also ads from people re-homing their dogs and selling puppies. Now, Craigslist doesn’t allow people to actually sell dogs but they allow “small” re-homing fees, but what constitutes “small” seems open to interpretation. Anyway, most of the puppies we called about seemed to be in the $150 to $400 range. Unfortunately, Craigslist didn’t have any puppies I wanted when I looked, though they do add new ones daily.
By searching around the net, I then came across oodle marketplace, an online classified website. Here I found lots of listings for puppies at very reasonable prices (about $200-300). I hurried to e-mail the owners, asking for more information on the puppies as well as pictures. Almost immediately the replies started coming. I wrote to seven people, and got five replies back. All of those were SCAMS. I’m copying the responses below though they are pretty much the same:
- They are all written in bad English (typical of Nigerian scams)
- They all offer say their puppies are AKC registered, yet the puppies are free or too cheap
- The puppies all come with equipment, guarantees or other things that cost money
- They claim that what they most care about is a good home for the puppies and send a long questionnaire.
As I’m a big fan of reading scam baiter e-mail threads (and I have to recommend them to you, the baits are soo funny though sometimes really cruel), I could tell from the first e-mail that it was a scam. A quick google search for the e-mail address led me to many ads offering all sorts of puppies for sale, in many cities. But how did the scam work?
Another quick search leads to the answer: the scammer tells you that she’s no longer in your city but she’ll be more than happy to mail you the puppy. All you have to do is pay for the shipping (or a low price that includes shipping), directly to the shipping company. The shipping company they’ll use is a fake and requires payment by Western Union or Moneygram (which will be untraceable to them once they receive it).
Personally, I don’t know why anyone would buy a puppy sight unseen (even from a reputable breeder) but these scams must work because they continue doing them.
Oh, well. At least scam baiters are having fun with these scams, this one is hilarious. And as for me, I went back to Craigslist and got a gorgeous German Shepherd puppy from a private party for a very reasonable price.