Gabriel – Aug 31, 2020
Victim Location 23320
Type of a scam Online Purchase
The detailed chronology below led me to conclude the above web site is a potential scam. It is provided to help others avoid the same mistakes, EARLY, and to urge them to follow the guidance provided on web sites such as Pet Scams-IPATA and PetScams.com. I didn’t locate these sites until after the fact when I searched ‘puppy scams.’ What is described below is so similar to what they caution against. I’m still shaking a bit at how close I came to falling for it.
1. Sellers have wonderful family-oriented web site, that includes both their phone number and email address. I emailed, explaining our 17 year-old Bichon had passed away and we were looking for another. I asked that they call me and provided my phone number.
2. Looking back, first clue it was a scam – instead of a phone call, they replied by email with further pet details – ‘lovely puppies,” microchip, current on all shots, obedient, loves to cuddle, and assuring continued contact before and after sale.’ Second overlooked clue: the price was a half to a third of what other internet sellers offered for Bichons. Another clue – in the email, price was not quoted as t $700 and $100 but as 700 usd and 100 usd for shipping. They also explained money is not important, instead it’s the care you offer, and they provided an appealing list of what was included in price. At the bottom of their email, they added that the dam and sire were certified by OFA (hips) and CERF (cataracts) for genetic diseases. Knowing these were potential genetic problems with Bichons, I thought “wow,” very responsible. The email also included a list of questions which would ‘determine if we would get the puppy or not.’
3. So enamored with the prospect of owning the cute puppy in the picture [emotional hook #1], I responded to the email’s questions – breeder, kids, ability to care for puppy, description of home environment – all of which seemed reasonable questions from a responsible breeder. I also asked about puppy’s adult weight and travel arrangements and again asked that they call.
4. Second group of overlooked clues – instead of a phone call, they replied by email, providing puppy’s adult weight and stated they ‘… ship by american and delta to the airport closest to your location and organize for delivery van or VIP Uber to bring her to your home. It is very safe and secured and we have been doing it for over 11 years.” Another clue, travel for only $100! Their email also asked that I provide info so they could prepare the contract for my review.
Still emotionally hooked, I emailed my full name, delivery [home] address, name of closest airport and cell phone number [which I provided in initial email].
5. Beginning to question my sanity and starting to feel uneasy, I tried several times to call the phone number on their web site – no answer. I sent a text message, letting them know I had responded to the above email and I would call them once they received it. They replied ‘OK’ and said they only had two of the three puppies left. I called again, no answer.
6. I sent another email. “In this era of internet fraud, we feel we need to be cautious before moving forward. Please text us several pictures taken today with Alice [the puppy] being held by you and that shows her home environment with her mom, dad and other siblings. Thank you.”
7. Still wanting the puppy and feeling I may have offended, I sent a follow-up email. ”Your web site is exceptional and so professional. It portrays a family devoted to loving and caring for their pets and a desire for your puppies to find equally loving and caring homes. We have every reason to be confident in this purchase and hope you understand our request for pictures, as we exercise due diligence and caution.” [This is another important ‘hook’ they use. They get you responding with your emotions rather than logic.]
8. His email response: “We have been in this for over 13 years. We have seen people come to us just to get pictures and documents to use it and scam others. … it’s difficult to know who is really ready to buy. Our conclusion is that you must make a 50% deposit which is 400$ And the balance 400$ when you receive the puppy. We will not give you further information concerning the puppies unless you make the deposit. Thanks.” [Hindsight, being 20/20, this should have been our stopping point.]
9. Instead, I sent him a text, asking that he call so that we could get to know each other and put to rest our reservations. Email and text are so impersonal. He never called.
10. Instead, he sent three text messages, saying:
a. “I only send contract once deposit is made
b. “Please if you do not feel comfortable you can buy from another breeder. I have had problems like this in the past.”
c. The only way I will know you are serious is after you make the deposit.
11. My guard was really up at this point!! I talked it over with my husband. We had two options. Walk away, now, or counter. Still really yearning for the cute puppy in the picture, we agreed the potential to lose $100 was an acceptable risk. If he were legit, he would be receptive to a counter offer. So, I responded via text saying it was “… unusual to pay the deposit before reviewing the contract. But, I’m willing to pay $100 now, as good faith … with the remaining $300 [of the deposit] to be submitted with the signed contract.” Expressed sympathy for him being scammed and that caution had been hammered into us, too. Hoped he understood. Asked him to let me know if $100 was acceptable.
12. He replied with three texts:
a. “I honestly understand you very well.”
b. “But we have been angry the way other customers acted of recent.”
c. “We will prefer you buy from another breeder if you cannot make the deposit but I give you my word 100% you will receive the puppy after the deposit unfailingly.
13. That was the clincher!!! I responded, “We will look for another breeder.”
14. He responded, “Ok good luck sir.”
CONCLUSION – After a long, exasperating and emotionally painful day, PLEASE don’t be this gullible, waste your time, or fall for these seemingly legit scams!!!! Urge you to read the info on the above web sites before you start your search for a puppy (or other pet) on the internet.
I hesitated to send this report, but felt a civic responsibility to others hoping to find a family pet on the internet. My gravest concern is that these people now have so much personal information and may retaliate. Any suggestions for how to protect myself, at this point?