The latest iteration of the so-called 419 advance fee scam features adorable puppies to win the hearts and bank accounts of Craigs List and Puppyfind.com readers.
[Michelle Waltenburg of Tacoma] was on the Craigslist web site looking at the classified ads for pets when she came across an ad for a “lovely English bulldog puppy needing a loving and caring home.”
“Something about the way they worded it jumped out at me,” she said. “It was an adorable little bulldog puppy, just sitting there, looking at the camera. That’s it. That’s all it takes.”
Michelle responded and got a quick reply from a James Campbell. He claimed to be an American working in Cameroon. He said he wanted someone in the United States to adopt his bulldog puppy, Suzy, because the weather in Africa was no good for her.
“And he said, ‘No, there’s no fee, but I need you to pay for the puppy to be flown home,’ ” Waltenburg recalled. “And I said, ‘Oh cool. I can do that,’ having no idea what was involved.”
Waltenburg thought she was going to get a purebred puppy for free, as long as she paid for the shipping, which the “seller” said had to be wired via Western Union.
Michelle sent him $180. That’s when the requests for more money started coming in.
“Unfortunately, there never was a dog and you’re never going to get your money back,” said Alison Preszler, with the National Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Thanks for the sugar coating, Better Business Bureau. Here is how to avoid the scam: Never wire money to a stranger; and while we’re not ones to stir the xenophobic stew, in this case, it also helps to buy American.