Classified Ads: Sellers Beware!

Selling puppies via Craigslist – or any classified ad – can be hazardous to your bank account.

Janet from New York sent us this story about a response to an ad she placed in an online classifieds web site. Here’s how it went down:

You have received a reply to your pet ad.

Hello,

I am Dan and am writing you because am much interested in your puppy for sale on the classified ads. Kindly email me the details with the actual price and the health condition of the pup. Hope the pup is still in a good state. Looking forwarding to hearing from you soon. Have a nice day.

Mr Dan

Not a bad start. His english isn’t great, but that’s okay. Here’s Janet’s reply:

Hi Dan,

I have two puppies left. The boy and the black and white girl. They are very healthy and quite active. They are $475 each. They will have their first 5way shot and have been dewormed. You can visit them if you like. They are available to leave the nest anywhere from the 19th to the 22nd. On the 22nd they will be 8weeks old.

Let me know. Don’t worry about their health. I am taking good care of them. They will also come with papers.

Thanks,

Janet

A reasonable response and the price seems right (okay, I don’t know anything about puppies, but I’m guessing these are pretty nice for $475 each). Here’s where things turn south…

Hello

Thanks for your email. I’m okay with price of the female puppy for $475. I will be making the payment via Certified Check drawn from a United State of America bank. I will making a dual payment which will cover the payment of the puppy and little part of the shipping of the puppy to its final destination.

Furthermore, as soon as you receive payment, you need cash to deduct the money for the puppy and wire the rest to the shipper who will be available for pickup at your end. In addition, you need to deduct $90
for more proper vaccination, Purina puppy chow and vet check before the pickup. Get back to me with the below information in order to get the payment mailed:

Name to be on the check:
Address to be mailed to ( No P.O Box Please)
Phone Number(s) I can possible reach on ( Morning/Day/Evening)

I just had to let you know how lucky the pup is going to be because the pup is coming to a good home with a spacious fence yard and tender care of family of two kids and Pet Lover.. I will be happy to send you pictures of the puppy development. The shipper will be taking good of him by giving a good hospitality and making a sound delivery to me.

Moreso, I will be glad if you can scan a copy of the AKC registration document and other paperworks for me, i.e if available. Get back to me as soon as the possible so I can effect the payment.Thanks and I look forward to reading from you.

Regards,

~Pups are my World~

Janet could sense that something was very wrong here. What were the warning signs?

  • Payment via check. – in an online transaction, a check should be considered worthless. Scammers are experts in creating forged checks. Your bank will initially accept the check, but will later discover that it’s a forgery and will remove the funds from your account.
  • Extra payment – this is a huge warning sign. Any time a buyer wants to send you more money than you’re asking for, alarm bells should go off. They’re hoping you will deposit the “extra money” in your bank account and then wire your money to an accomplice. Not only will you not get paid for your merchandise, you’ll actually end up paying them money. Getting scammed twice instead of once is not fun.
  • Payment via wire – thieves love being paid via wire because it’s almost impossible to track and recover the money. Never pay by wire.
  • The use of emotion – the scammers play on the sellers feelings by talking about how they’ll care for the puppy, take pictures of the puppy, put the puppy in a nice, big, safe, fenced yard, etc. Emotion is a powerful tool in distracting you as they steal your money.

This story had a happy ending. Janet sensed that something was wrong and didn’t send the scammers anything. We’re sharing the story here with the hope of educating other people placed in the same situation.

NOTE:This is our first in an on-going series of stories direct from visitors of Fight Identity Theft. If you’d like to submit your story, go to our contact page and select “I’d like to share my story.”

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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