No bull? How do I know there's no bull?

Last night I stumbled upon the latest innovation from Nigeria -- puppy scams:

1/1/07 - It is an old scam with a sneaky new twist. Nigerian criminals -- known for lottery scams -- are now using hard-to-resist puppies for sale.
Hanford mom Anjelica Garcia began her search for a Yorkshire Terrier online. It was for her daughters' Christmas present, after they lost their old pet. Anjelica answered an ad and exchanged e-mails with the seller. It sounded perfect.

But there was a slight problem. The seller says he's no longer living in the United States. The "Reverend Robert Greene" says he took the puppies with him to do missionary work in Nigeria.

"He was a servant of the Lord, so I trusted him," Garcia said.

So, Anjelica sent $600 to Nigeria. The money was picked up on the other end but the dogs never came. When she questioned the seller he had the nerve to ask her for even more money. That's when Anjelica got suspicious.

Doug Broten of the Better Business Bureau has seen many examples of this type of advance fee fraud.

Absolutely no puppies seem to be involved, so animal rights activists can relax. There are no Nigerian puppy mills; just cute pictures of puppies, with heartrending messages attached.

I was quite surprised to see purebred, AKC pedigreed bulldog puppies listed for sale in New York and advertised for prices ranging from "free" to a fraction of their value, so I thought I would email some of these people with a brief note saying I was nearby and offering to drive up and take a look at them. My suspicions were justified. Not one was willing to let me see or pick up puppies. The replies to my email totally ignored my offer to drive there (something no normal person parting with a tiny puppy would do). Instead, I was given the stories in the replies below and asked for contact and delivery information.

I emailed back, restating my willingness to drive, and saying that I would not buy a puppy that I could not pick up personally, but have heard nothing since.

I suspect there are no puppies.

But as we've been seeing recently, it's very hard to prove that something is not there.

Am I being irresponsible in asserting that these ads are scams?

UPDATE: Amazingly, the seller who emailed me back claiming to be in China has replied again to my offer to drive to New York:

Yes am from new york, but am in china and the baby is right here with me so advice me if to proceed in shipping her to you. i just want this baby to get back to me to the state as soon as possible.
I don't know how to interpret the last sentence, but I repeated my unwillingness to buy a puppy that has to be shipped.

Am I cynical in suspecting that the seller from New York does not have a puppy in China?

MORE (01/09/07): Pikeville, Tennessee must be a very popular place for people who list bulldogs for sale in "New York," as I just received another reply from a different person with a different dog, but with exactly the same "Pikeville" story line, word for word, as the one I quoted below yesterday:

But Recently i Moved down to Pikeville, Tennessee with my Family and My Buisness Has also been shifted down to Pikeville, Tennessee ,I will have the puppy ship along with her certified health certificate, vaccination and worming record, copy of USDA paper, AKC registration application for the puppy, its pedigree, tips on care and training your puppy, and your puppy's guarantee.also the airline ticket, an approved carrier with a soft, comfortable bed, health certificate from my vet, a puppy pack including sample food your pup has been eating, a tube of nutri-cal,I also include a special gift to your puppy from me.Everything you will need will be taped to the top of your puppy's carrier.the total cost of the $650.00 plus shipping and handling one of the puppies is $650...so get back to me with your full name shipping address and your contact phone number including the nearest airport to you,Looking forward to hear from you soon.
The price is different, as is the description of the dog in the preceding paragraph:
"she is currently just 4 months old and only 2.9 pounds.she is very playful and loves to be held and cuddled! she has a great disposition and tempermentand is definitely NOT a barker at all.He is already potty trained to go on the potty pads and on her wayto being housetrained so the hard part is almost over!"
Wow, to think that she is already a he!

But how can I really know there's no dog? I mean, couldn't two different people have moved to Pikeville while listing two different bulldogs for sale in New York?

Yes, just as it is scientifically possible that a Rolexes offered for sale for $15.00 might be genuine.

These replies were received in response to intrasystem inquiries I sent to classified ads here:

REPLY 1

Thanks for the interest in my Bull-dog the puppy yes i still have the Bull-dog for sale and she is with me in good health,and she is AKC registered and she is also ready to go home,and my baby is just 4 month old, will like you to get back with the following detalis for the delivery of the Bulldog Name:::::::::::
Address::::::::::::::
Nearest Air-port::::::::::::::::::::::::
Contact # ::::::::::::::::: So as soon i get all these info i will be able to make
the delivery for the puppy and she will be coming with
1 year health garantee and I use only the
highest quality food, medication and vaccines. my pup
has been vet checked and they are regularly vet
checked and carefully screened for health problems and
they are vet checked, vaccinated and dewormed before
being placed in their new homes,she is currently just 4
months old and only 2.9 pounds.she is very playful and
loves to be held and cuddled! she has a great
disposition and tempermentand is definitely NOT a
barker at all.she is already potty trained to go on
the potty pads and on her way to being house trained so
the hard part is almost over!He comes from champion
show parents and has a gorgeous teddy bear face. Comes
with his health certificate(showing her blood panel
test results-completely healthy), 3 generation
champion line pedigree, registration paid for,
microchipped, and completed all required vaccinations &
rabies,as well as dewormings,age of 49 years of
age and i will like to promise me that you will take
care of my puppy cause i love her so much.
I will be using Delta pet first delivery air-line
as the delivery method and as soon as i get the
delivery address i will then be able to calculate the delivery
fee and the puppy fee together.
But Recently i Moved down to Pikeville, Tennessee with my Family and My Buisness Has also been shifted down to Pikeville, Tennessee ,I will have the puppy ship along with her certified health certificate, vaccination and worming record, copy of USDA paper, AKC registration application for the puppy, its pedigree, tips on care and training your puppy, and your puppy's guarantee.also the airline ticket, an approved carrier with a soft, comfortable bed, health certificate from my vet, a puppy pack including sample food your pup has been eating, a tube of nutri-cal,I also include a special gift to your puppy from me.Everything you will need will be taped to the top of your puppy's carrier.the total cost of the $500.00 plus shipping and handling one of the puppies is $500...so get back to me with your full name shipping address and your contact phone number including the nearest airport to you,Looking forward to hear from you soon.
Best Regards

REPLY 2

Thank you for having interest in my pretty is available now and they are ready for a new . she is fully akc/nkc registration,their are update picturesis available on request,the pretty will weigh 60lbs at full grow,her mother weigh 60 lbs at full grow while her father weigh 60 lbs at full grown.i want this beautiful, cute and sweet baby that will steal your heart to go a lovinghome, she's very gentle and friendly to people around her, it has a happy go lucky disposition and loves everyone, pretty is raised with children and other animals.she will come with his health certificate andcurrent on all and fully guaranteed current On all shots,Wormer and Dewormings.you can get back to me with your full name,address and phone number and nearest airport to your house so that i can proceed the shippment of the puppy a soon as possible, but right now am out of the country for a conference in CHINA . if you are really interested wil ship the puppy to your doorstep, reason why am out with the puppy is that people around can't take good care of the puppy the way i do.if you are really interested i will ship to you on onecondition that you that you want to pay me is not the problem but absolute care for my baby,hope to hear from you as soon as possible

REPLY 3

Dear
Thanks for the mail, regarding to my babies,They are still available .there name is Tiney and whiteny and Our Akc English bulldog Are Born, Raised And Spoiled in Our Home. We Offer New Families One Year Health Guarnatee,Health Certificate From Vet,1St Shots +De-Worming,Shot Record From Vet, Dentle Check,AKC Paper Work and they Very adorable babies they are very fiesty and loves to play.they are cuddly and friendly ,my best price to sell out my babies for you is $500 including shipping and if you are willing to purchase one is $250 including shipping...here is the information needed about my babies below;

Name:Tiney/whiteny
Sex:Male/Female
Age:8weeks old
Registrations:AKC

Kindly get back to me so that i can go and arrange for the shipping your nearest airport via [contienetal airline as petair Or KLM) i hope with all this information you can know what to do about my babies.so kindly get to me if you are serious on my Tiney/whitney so that i can put a hold on theiradvert.Also promise me that when my babies get to your home you will take care of them as much you can do for your own son.And here is the information needed from you for the shippment.Also do make sure you take good care of my babies..
FULL NAME;
ADDRESS;
NEAREST
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER;
Thanks and God Bless You..
Regards
Dave.....

posted by Eric on 01.08.07 at 08:03 AM










Comments

Honestly, I bet these scammers are so poor they have to eat dogfood. Sadly, I knew a man who did something similar for a "living". He was always in trouble, had people come to his house and yell at him several times, and even was beaten up once, and he made less than $10,000 a year. He is now in prison, I believe, though I lost touch with him after he began selling Freedom bonds to little old ladies who wanted to do something after 9/11.

Jon Thompson   ·  January 8, 2007 11:30 AM

Say you'll pay COD. Say you'll pay an extra $100.00 if they'll go that route.

Harkonnendog   ·  January 8, 2007 6:59 PM

Hark, that's a GREAT idea. I'll try it -- if they ever get back to me.

Eric Scheie   ·  January 8, 2007 9:35 PM

Yes i was also a vitim of this puppy fruad. they said they were from california and in nigeria doing mission work. asked for 200.00 so i sent it. then the day iwas to get the puppy asked for 310.00 for customs to let her go thru. i stopped replying.

jackie t   ·  February 4, 2007 11:02 AM

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