Don't Fall For The Nigerian Puppy Scam!

Bankrate has an extensive round up of the most common internet pet scams, including the infamous “Nigerian Puppy Scam.” (Yes, apparently this exists.)

Scammers post on Craigslist with a picture of an adorable puppy like Scooter (who belongs to one of our readers, not a Nigerian scammer), and a sob story. The puppy can be yours for only $100 in shipping! You go ahead and wire the money to the scammer.

Sadly for you, there is no puppy and you’ve been had.

Here are some pet-scam-avoiding tips from Bankrate:


  • Check out referrals
  • See the puppy in person


  • Pay via wire transfer
  • Buy from an overseas seller
  • Purchase a puppy, sight unseen

We can definitely see how this sort of scam works. One look at Scooter and your wallet flies out of your pocket and starts spraying money indiscriminately. Puppies are so cute.

Pet scams [Bankrate]


Edit Your Comment

  1. joeblevins says:

    I had to check to see if this was April 1st. At some point we just have to accept this type of thing is a form of financial Darwinism. (I might have just made up that term).

  2. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    PUPPY!!! (clapping happily) YAAAAY!!

    There, now I’m happy again

  3. Toof_75_75 says:

    I’m so glad you posted a picture of Scooter again…he’s awesome!

  4. Falconfire says:

    crap why even pay for a puppy period. There are millions of kittens and puppies that can be had for the cost of the initial shots and neutering/spaying.

    Stop buying trophy pets, your not a breeder and your never going to enter your pet in a show so stop being a asshole and thinking like you are when you look for a pet.

  5. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    When we were looking for a bulldog puppy I got several of these emails. I really can’t believe how people fall for this one, although the thought of getting a $1500-$2500 bulldog for shipping charges only probably gets a few. Here is the text of one of the emails we received:

    Thanks for your interest in my lovely baby. she is still very much available for new home.She is 10 weeks old,She weigh 5lbs and she will be 35 to 40lbs at full grown,she is AKC registered and her shots are given up to date.All her papers will accompany her, But right now i am in africa on a Christain mission with my wife we got posted here by our church and we have her right here with us.we are going to ship her to you via Express pets delivery on next day delivery after shippment through a shipping agent,total and shipping cost is $600.If you are interested in having her, i want you to get back to me with your full name,address, phone number including the nearest airport to you.Please if you know that you are not going to take very good care of my baby do not reply me because i am only giving her out because we dont have time to take care of her again due to the mission work before us here. Await your response.

    City Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria, 23401

  6. veronykah says:

    @Falconfire: So well put!
    No reputible breeder will sell you a puppy over the internet. Don’t buy from pet stores either, it is perpetuating the breeding of dogs for money. More often than not those dogs are sick and poorly bred.
    Take a trip to your local ASPCA or city run shelter. There are loads of dogs, yes even purebreds, waiting for a forever home. They need to be rescued more than any “puppy in nigeria”!

  7. B says:

    Give me $100, or I will kill this puppy.


  8. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    and here are some people that were taken by this scam


  9. Falconfire says:

    @veronykah: exactly, My friend purebred Dachshund came from a rescue, and not a breeder, and I know you can find plenty of purebred from other like sources, especially since people who buy them dont know how much trouble they are getting themselves into and send them to the pound when they do realize.

    But as a general rule of thumb if your looking for a animal thats “low maintenance” your not looking for a purebreed. purebred puppies and kittens might look beautiful, but they also have all the bred in problems related to sleeping with your 1st cousin 5 generations over.

  10. thepounder says:

    Nice… I’ve always wanted a Nigerian puppy.

    OK, the best way I’ve found to get a new dog/puppy or cat/kitten is to go to my local shelter. In my area it’s called “Second Chance” (and privately owned/funded) and it’s unfortunately quite often overrun with animals that’ve been left because the former owners are military and often cannot take their pets with them when they PCS or deploy to some armpit of a country.

    On a brighter note, I’ve gotten some great pets from there over the years & the adoption fees are minimal.

    Personally I can’t understand why anyone would send money before actually seeing the puppy they would like to buy… seems silly to me, as well as being quite obvious as something you just don’t do.


    Seriously, if want a pet dog or cat do you really need one “shipped” to you?

  12. RandomHookup says:

    I had a random odd thought and had to go look it up. If the dog were from Niger and not Nigeria, he would be a Nigerien puppy.

    The more you know…

  13. acambras says:

    Puppies are irresistible.

    Last night on Dateline, they showed a guy trying to get latchkey kids to let him into their houses. The whole thing was done to test latchkey kids’ security-mindedness — the parents were in on the whole thing, sitting in a nearby van, watching the whole thing unfold on hidden camera, and saying “my kids know better than to open the door for a stranger.”

    The guy would show up with a bouquet of balloons and a puppy, saying he had a “pet delivery for [kid’s name].” Most of the kids’ parents were horrified to see their otherwise-savvy kids flinging open the door upon seeing the puppy.

  14. catskyfire says:

    The scam depends on the age old ‘getting a hot deal’ and ‘something for nothing…or very little.’

    The thing is, the story sounds good, and you know there are people who go for it. Just like those who think a prince will be sending them 2 million dollars. All they need is the account number…

  15. SkyeBlue says:

    I know it probably sounds mean, but with almost ALL scams I have heard about online and on TV news shows if people were not being greedy they would not end up getting scammed. That is what these crooks do, they play on people’s greed and that it is human nature I guess to want something for nothing (or at least big returns on a little money invested).

    I was sitting in a restaurant just the other day and this older women begins telling me how she and her retired minister husband just lost $10,000.00 of their life savings on a business scam. They had invested in a “Spice” company that was just starting up, got their friends involved and they all lost everything. From what she said her husband felt so guilty about the friends he had talked into coming in on the investment with them losing their money that he was slowly paying them back for the money they lost!

    The old saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true”, really applies in cases like these.

  16. @catskyfire: But how is $600 a good price for a puppy?

  17. pegr says:

    Smother it and ship it UPS, $35, max…

  18. rbb says:

    Here are three ways to get a puppy:

    1. Go to the local shelter

    If you are set on a certain breed and want a purebred:

    2. Contact a breed specific rescue group. They make it their business to rescue specific breed(s) from the pound, etc.

    3. Contact the breed specific group (e.g., the Samoyed Club of America []) where you will find plenty of information, not only about the breed, but local club chapters, breeders and rescue groups.

    In general, a good breeder does not have to advertise their puppies – the customers come to them.

  19. My fellows are also rescues and they are the NICEST, best-tempered cats. Pure-breds are getting nastier and stupider. (I always had Siamese growing up but its been YEARS since I was a Siamese that wasn’t dumb as a rock and meaner than poison.)

    My husband’s had really good experiences with breed-specific rescue groups when he was breed-interested.

    Also, if you adopt an adult pet, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH POTTY TRAINING. I adopted one cat as a kitten and the other as an adult, and it would have to be THE CUTEST KITTEN ON THE PLANET for me to go through kitten training again (and not just litter training, but socializing and the rest of it). I can’t say enough times how much I loved adopting an adult pet. The only downside is you get fewer years with them. :(

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Looks like Scooter needs a bit of pilates?

    I kid. There are a ton of animal rescue groups, many of them volunteer, that are a great thing. And you pay for their costs when you adopt a kitty or puppy from them.

    We were looking for a new kitty to replace the one that passed away (sob). Had our minds set on a Siamese type kitty (not a purebred cuz they’re prone to be from puppy/kitty mills, at worse, or at best overbred into early senility) since: awww.

    Walked in and saw the different kittens, met a bengal kitty that was the wrong sex (male), the wrong appearance and was too young (had just been rescued and was barely out of nursing). But Benji was so freaken, amazingly adorable, totally playful, heart-melting yips and a roaring purr that made windows rattle. Needless to say, the best “wrong” decision we ever made.

    A decision we wouldn’t have had the lucky chance to make if we didn’t go in person and chill out among the feral, child’s-breath-stealing lil’ hellions for over an hour. So yeah, you’re going to be taking care of your pet for the rest of its life (right?), so spend a couple hours with several of them beforehand to see how well they fit for you. You’ll be SO glad, and you won’t be scammed.

    PS: buying Nigerian children off the internet, on the other hand: awesome!

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    Oh, I found my local pet rescue outfit thru Craigslist (Pets, of course). Any advice from others where to find local ones for those interested?

    And, are there differences in city-owned, private and not-for-profit private groups?

    Finally, how much is too much for an adoption fee? I’ve seen some crazy ones ($200 in LA area), but mine was $50, that was clearly going for kibble and the nice, though overwhelmed woman’s time.

  22. frankieman70 says:

    I almost got scammed on facebook but it was a cute english bulldog for free but I had to pay the shipping fee, I told her to fuck off, here is what they e-mailed me.

    Thanks for the mail.We are very happy to know that you are pet lovers and can take good care of Billy,we were just been scared because we have read about some people that maltreat animals for pleasure .My family and i have just relocated to the Spanish city called Barcelona ,we work for the Baptist Mission and our job is so demanding living us with no time to take good care of our baby .Billy will come along with all vet papers and a one year health guarantee.All we need for him is much love and care.We dont feel comfortable selling him but If you are willing to take care of the change of ownership papers and shipping then we can have any shipped to you.If you dont feel comfortable to take him let me know immediately and so i can adopt him to another family..We hope to read from you.Have a nice day.GOD BLESSYOU.ThanksDr Moore Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can,at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be exceedingly glad!

    p.s this is the link for the add ( [] )

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    Frank –

    You should TOTALLY milk these guys. Make them send photos of themselves wearing bikini tops or something, to prove it’s them. Heh.

  24. andros says:

    So, what you’re saying people are buying a Puppy in a Box? Is that like buying a Cat in a Sack, or is it just me?

  25. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: An English Bulldog puppy starts around $1500.

  26. jook says:

    Personally, I don’t understand why people haven’t just realized that anything at all form Nigeria is (extremely likely to be) a scam. Why not throw out the country offhand?

    On a similar line of thought, why don’t those silly Nigerian scammers say they’re from someplace reputable? It’ doesn’t really matter where the postmark on your puppy says it’s from, as no puppy will be coming. Obviously, there are still signs that such things would be a scam, but I already ignore anything from Nigeria. They might at least make me read a few sentences first to determine it’s a scam, if it said it was from somewhere else.

  27. weave says:

    I volunteer at a no-kill shelter. I’ve worked personally with the dogs there and many that are there week after week are the sweetest things. We take good care of them, socialize with them, take them for walks, and keep them healthy. Dogs from abused households are not made available for adoption until they have been de-tramautized and returned to being lovable companions again.

    Honest assessments are made of each after getting to know them, like some are classified as “must be only pet in house” and/or “Not good with children.”

    Find your closest neighrborhood no kill shelter that is run mostly by volunteers and you’ll get a great pet everytime.

    Some are purebred but just lack papers. We had an English bulldog in several weeks ago (he went fast though).

  28. Trai_Dep says:

    Weave: it’s awesome that you do this kind of work. for those that are interested in finding a local no kill shelter, where can they look?

  29. veronykah says:

    @trai_dep: is an AMAZING website. You can search for specific breeds or mixes and you can search for rescue groups etc in your geographic area as well.
    Check it out, its where I found my dog!
    [If you are looking for a purebred, check Petfinder RELIGOUSLY. I did and the dog I was looking for showed up!] As was stated before, you can always try breed rescue. The AKC website will lead you to the breed clubs website and from there you can find the breed specific rescue.
    There is NO need to go to a pet store!

  30. Charles Duffy says:

    @weave: Good for you. We got our latest, Vincent, at a municipal (kill) shelter — he’d been there three weeks, and was almost out of time. He’s a German Shepherd mix, and an absolute sweetie; it would have been such a shame if he hadn’t found a home. (He’s also not they dog we went there for — but they brought us over to him after we talked a bit about what we were looking for, and we fell for him right away). He’s great around kids (while we don’t have any ourselves yet, we have lots of friends who do and are thinking about fostering and possibly adopting at some point), well-behaved but also imposing enough to lend my wife the sense of security she was hoping a large dog would provide. (Also, no housebreaking required — a very good thing, as I don’t much care for having my house broken in the process).

    To echo the general sentiment — go to a shelter!

  31. JayXJ says:

    Good picture. Kittens and puppies are cute so you don’t kill them. Anyone who doesn’t get that statement has never seen the destruction a puppy can cause…

    Seriously, what the heck is wrong with a mutt? Most of the dogs our family has had have been mixed breeds. Who cares as long as the dog’s personality is okay?

  32. @Seymour Scagnetti: *head explodes*

  33. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: We actually ended up adopting a wonderful deaf bulldog, but are looking to buy her a playmate. I don’t have any issue with how much they cost, they are wonderful pets.

  34. Schminteresting says:

    @joeblevins: Financial darwinism FTW! Love that. I’m gonna start using that term.