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Scam of the month Scams

Fraud artists hurt pet lovers financially and emotionally.

Scam of the month

Pet scams

Internet scammers are luring online puppy buyers with cute pictures and false promises, taking would-be dog owners for an emotional and financial ride.

Several organizations report an increasing number of complaints concerning online pet sales, including the American Kennel Club, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Humane Society of the United States and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3.

Over the past year, the Internet Crime Complaint Center has received nearly 700 complaints -- mostly coming from people contacted by fraudsters answering the victims' ads for pet sales or people who answered fraudsters' ads themselves.  Story continues below...

The puppy scam
Source: Bankrate.com
Do's: Don'ts:
  • Check out referrals   • Pay via wire transfer
  • See the puppy in person   • Buy from an overseas seller
  • Purchase a puppy, sight unseen

There are three main types of pet scams: an overpayment scheme, a Nigerian pet scam and a sale that provides you with an ill or dying puppy -- or no puppy at all.

Because the scammers frequently operate from overseas, it's often impossible for victims to recoup their money or take legal action. In the United States, California, Florida and Louisiana are hot spots. Victims lose anywhere from $250 to $2,000 to the scams, according to Alison Preszler, spokeswoman for the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Here's how to recognize these scams and how you can protect yourself while shopping for a furry family member.

Overpayment pet scam
How it works: This is a variation on a popular fraud scheme. An animal owner publishes an online ad offering a pet for sale. The fraudster contacts this person, negotiates a price and sends payment for the animal in the form of a cashier's check.

-- Posted: Sept. 4, 2007
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