Pet Scams are a variation of advance fee fraud or check scams. The scammer will purport to have pets, often puppies, for sale or to give away to a good home. Those who love animals will quickly give their hearts away to what may appear to be an animal in need of help or who is cute and adorable. Invariably there are "fees" required, which must be paid by Western Union or Moneygram, often to an entirely different name. Once the initial payment is made, the scammer will continually come up with more demands for money, claiming problems in shipping, unexpected customs charges, special handling fees, etc. They will continue to extract money as long as they can, creating new excuses after each payment is made.
Sometimes when the scammer senses that he can no longer extract any money through his various ploys, he will offer some kind of "refund." This will be in the form of a fake cashier's check or personal check, or counterfeit postal money order, invariably made out for more than the promised refund. The scammer will then insist that the victim cashes the check immediately and sends the excess amount back by Western Union or Moneygram. When the check ultimately bounces, the victim will be held liable for the full amount and any costs.
Many scammers are advertisting puppies for sale on auction sites or in local newspapers. They have even created fake sites for selling their "puppies". Very often the puppies they are selling are Yorkies or bulldogs. There are, of course, no puppies. The pictures are stolen from somewhere else online. If you reply to the ad you'll experience a variation of the scam described above. Please look for red flags when responding to any advertisements for puppies. If you aren't sure if you're dealing with a scammer or not, please post the emails here for advice.
Please see this thread for an introduction to advance fee fraud, and this thread for an introduction to check scams.
More information about pet scams
American Kennel Club advice
News items about pet scams
SanDiego news report
An example of a puppy scam
Subject: PUPPY AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION
my name is Paul Weber i am 18 years old,i am staying with my
grandmother of 75years in london who has numerous puppies around her,The purpose
of writing this to you is that i will like you to adopt one of my
grandma's puppies because i will be resuming a college in germany next month
and i would not be able to take good care of them due to my
resumption,Besides my grandmother is also old and i dont want those puppies to
give her lots of stress anylonger.
If you are really interested all what will cost you is just only
$350-$450 for the shipping depending on where you are located.
Hope to hear from you soon so that i will provide you all the pictures
and details of the puppy