Scammers target animal lovers in classified ads



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 20 at 11:05 AM


Gary Reaves reports

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FORT WORTH - One North Texas woman is warning others after she ran into a scam while attempting to purchase a dog through newspaper classified advertisements.

"I really wanted a puppy for my family," said Kim Rogers, who turned to ads in The Fort Worth Star Telegram on March 3 during her puppy search.

Rogers said she thought she found just what she was looking for when she saw an ad for a breed that normally costs $2,000. The ad said they were selling the puppy for only $500.

"I called the number and a little old lady answered and said, 'We don't have any puppies,'" she said.

Rogers sent the seller an e-mail and got two replies back that were complete with pictures. One of the replies was from a missionary in Nigeria. The seller claimed they were giving away the puppies and only needed money to be able to send the puppies overseas to the United States.

The other e-mail claimed the seller was from California.

"[It said] I have to send him the money because his son was in California with cancer and I have to send the money first," Rogers said.

Believing both e-mails sounded suspicious, Rogers contacted News 8. News 8 called the Better Business Bureau.

Turned out, the newspaper ad is just the latest twist on an old scam. This time, the scammers lure in their victims with the offer of cute pets to tug at their heartstrings.

"A lot of them get placed online," said a manager at The Fort Worth Star Telegram. "We try to look at every one and try to police it as best we can, but it is very difficult."

Three weeks after Rogers contacted News 8, an almost identical advertisement was published again. News 8 contacted the seller to check it out.

"We do not have dogs for sale," said the person who answered the phone for the number printed in the advertisement.

The Star Telegram said they will continue to keep their eyes out for the scammers, who are apparently are getting more creative when it comes to conning people out of their cash.

Experts advise against paying for any pet before you actually see it.