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News Release

For Immediate Release
July 28, 2010

Contact:
Senior Assistant Attorney General
James T. Boffetti
(603) 271-3643

Consumer Advisory About the "Puppy Scam"

Attorney General Michael A. Delaney announced today that consumers should be aware of classified advertising scams targeting dog lovers, also know as the Puppy Scam. This scam has circulated over the years and has begun to resurface again, targeting New Hampshire residents.

The scam involves the promised delivery of a puppy when the purchase price and all requested fees such as vaccination and shipping costs are paid, when, in fact, the seller does not have any puppies for sale. Some scam artists use fake or stolen photos in their ads, claiming they are pictures of puppies for sale. The advertisement instructs prospective buyers to wire money in advance and refers them to a money wiring service such as Western Union or Money Gram. In other cases, the scammer sends a check or money order to the victim in advance to cover shipping or insurance costs. They typically send too much money and instruct the victim to forward the overpayment by wire transfer. Of course, their method of payment turns out to be fake, which the consumer only discovers after wiring the money to the scammer. When the puppy is not delivered, the buyer discovers he/she has been scammed and all attempts to contact the seller are unsuccessful. In the latest incarnation of this scam, the dog owner claims to be a missionary serving in Africa.

In order to avoid these types of scams, the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Bureau offers this advice:

  • Wiring money is like sending cash. Never wire money or give your account information to anyone unless you are absolutely sure you want that person or company to have it. Purchases online should be made via methods that offer fraud protection.
  • Know the person with whom you are dealing and independently confirm your seller's name, address, and telephone number. Ask for and verify references.
  • Resist pressure to "act now." If an offer sounds too good to be true it usually is.
  • Check to make sure there are no scam alerts issued against the seller. You can search for that information on the internet, or by contacting the Federal Trade Commission or this Office at the e-mail address or Web sites shown below.
  • Trust your instincts. If you do not feel comfortable with the seller or with the suggested arrangements, walk away from any further dealings with that person or company.
  • If the seller wants you to use a service you have not heard of, be sure to check it out for reliability – check its Web site, call its customer service hotline, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. If you do not feel comfortable with the service, do not use it.
  • Simply because an advertisement is in a legitimate media outlet – like the local newspaper or radio station – does not guarantee that the company placing it is trustworthy.
  • You should always ask to talk with the seller's veterinarian prior to purchasing a puppy.

If you responded to a fraudulent puppy ad via e-mail, forward the e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov and notify the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ifccfbi.gov.

If you have doubts as to whether an advertisement is legitimate, call the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau at (603) 271-3641 or 1-888-468-4454. For more information on consumer fraud you can also visit the Bureau's Web site at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/.


New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658