Scams avoided: Pug and Pomeranian puppies, and blue and yellow macaws

Animalcouriers has recently heard from a number of people reporting pet-related scams. For potential victims in the UK, the scammer often claims to be based in Scotland — making it seem more likely that someone might accept a pet delivered, unseen, by courier.

Erica wrote to tell us she’d see a scam on Facebook relating to Pug puppies in Kirkwall. And Mrs Boyd wrote to let us know she recently managed to avoid a scam involving a Pomeranian puppy, thanks in part to the Animalcouriers webpage about scams. The seller claimed to be living in Scotland and, owing to work commitments, couldn’t make time for her to visit the puppy. Instead, she would have to have it delivered, unseen, in return for a £200 payment made by Western Union. Mrs Boyd takes up the story:

“I found all of this very strange and decided to look into it as a possible scam and thankfully came across your website highlighting such scams….THANK YOU!! On Googling the email address provided I have come to realise that this ‘seller’ is actually advertising on various websites, selling numerous breeds of pups from various locations around the UK but always using the same email and contact number…. hurkesjurkes@yahoo.com, tel: 07055 147 739…..Please beware!!!”

Meanwhile we heard from Elke in Germany reporting a scam relating to blue and yellow macaws, also originating on Facebook:

“Es geht um 2 Gelbbrustaras, werden für ganz wenig Geld angeboten von einer Person namens Santos Macias.” [translation: Two blue and yellow macaws were being offered in return for very little money by a woman called Santos Macias.]

Elke was being asked to pay flight costs of €248 to a recipient in Cameroon called Nanje Christel. Payment was to be made immediately by Western Union “because the banks are closed today”. The email address given was info@petscourrier.com (the transport company was called variously Pet Air and The Animal Transport Company);  with a phone number of +44 7031 960 957.

Please visit our webpage about scams to find out more about the typical characteristics of pet-related scams and how to report them.

Have you been the victim of a scam? The BBC wants to hear your story

The BBC is making a documentary looking at the rise of online scamming. They are keen to speak with anyone who has been a victim of a scam — whether someone calling purporting to be your bank, to hackers getting into your computer, to businesses having suffered a financial loss as a result of a scam. They are particularly keen to hear from:

  • Anyone who has been a victim of a fake puppy seller or international gang purporting to be animal couriers
  • Victims in Scotland

Find out about animal scams on the Animalcouriers be scam aware page

Please contact Sam on +44 (0)7850 055247 or +44 (0)141 422 7859 or email sam.poling@bbc.co.uk

To find out more about the telltale signs of pet scams, visit our scams page.

Look out for animal scams via Facebook

scam-aWe received an email from Louise who unfortunately fell victim to a puppy scam via Facebook. Once she found our ‘beware of scams‘ page on the Animalcouriers website, she realised her experience bore all the hallmarks people need to look out for in many types of scam:

  • A sob story
  • A free puppy, with just the transport costs to pay
  • Being rushed into a decision with lots of hassling phone calls and emails
  • Payment required via MoneyGram, with a payee address in Cameroon
  • A phone number to call that looks like a UK mobile number (starts 07, in this case 0702) but is actually a special number that costs a lot to call
  • Being asked to pay more money towards the pet transport partway through the process (when you already feel committed)

Louise asked us to help her warn others about the scam. Below is her story in full.

“I wish I had found your advice page sooner. I am absolutely heartbroken as I’ve lost £620 to a pet courier scam.

I’m a member of a selling site on Facebook on which a young lady was trying to find a forever home for her puppy. We as a family have been looking for a puppy for some time and the thought of helping someone in the process really appealed to us.

She said she was unable to have her puppies in her new apartment so needed to find somewhere fast. Next minute I was caught up in this whirlwind. She lived in Scotland and suggested a courier to deliver the puppy to me, which was great and I only had to pay for the courier which was £120. I was told to do it quickly so the puppy would be on its way to me. I was a bit taken aback by having to pay it via MoneyGram, but was reassured by the sender that this was their headquarters in Cameroon and they’d had recent problems with hacking on their website which affected their payment site.

I was then sent an email stating I needed to pay £500 fully refundable insurance before they would proceed with the delivery. I did put this off, asked for contact details, company address etc and they phoned me constantly as we’ll as sending email upon email, tugging at my heartstrings about the puppy. My instincts were not to pay and leave it. Stupidly and reluctantly I paid the money, and got an email saying the puppy was going to be on the next slot to my location. I got regular updates all via email. So I felt really good about it.

The next morning I received an email saying the puppy was at Newcastle Airport and doing well but due to weather and climatic differences between Newcastle and my location the puppy could not go any further in its current crate and would need a temperature-regulating crate which I would need to buy (£1450-£1580) or rent (£200 with £180 fully refundable). Within the email they said that the new crate would stop the puppy from experiencing internal bleeding, again trying to tug at my heart. By now I was fuming. So I called them on the 0702 number they gave me and had a heated discussion about it. They then sent me an email saying the sender had paid £120 but I need to pay £80.

I replied saying I wasn’t paying any more money and they went all quiet… So too did the very pushy sender, who had pushed me all the way via Facebook messenger. She gave me a sob story about her dad being ill and now passed away etc.

I do not want anyone else to go through this. I feel physically sick when I think of the money they’ve taken off me.”

To find out more about these scams, visit our website.

Deluded dog deceived by promise of digital vole detector

To celebrate our 1,500th post, we bring you the latest guest blog from the wonderful Jane Biddiss:

The latest shocking story has emerged from Biddissville. Reverend and Mrs Biddiss are publishing this as a warning to all doggy parents of the consequences of letting dogs surf unsupervised on the internet.

After emailing his godmother, courier J, Sneaky Neaky the Madeirian Mongrel started surfing his favourite vole-related websites when he came across this advert below. The title alone would have warned off most brainy Border Collies but, alas, not the hapless hunting hound.

Digitally
Enhanced
Canine
Electronic
Intracranial
Vole
Echo
Detector

with

Sound
Amplifying
Dish

and

Many successfully
Undertaken
Test
Trials

Sneaky Neaky immediately sent off his saved-up bone money and here you can see him modelling the dodgy doggy device. Alas, to date, no voles have been detected in Biddissville.

Sound dish in place and intracranial device implanted — let the vole hunt begin!

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Officer Oswald of the Collie police (black & white division) has had to break the news to the Poor Portuguese Pooch that he is a victim of vole-related internet fraud.

Now the laughing stock of Biddissville, Bucket Head — as he has been nicknamed by the Collies — was last seen bumping into furniture while muttering unrepeatable Portuguese curses.

Sneaky Neaky realises to his dismay that he’s been conned

Sunny avoids a parrot scam with help from Animalcouriers

Sunny wrote to tell us that she recently avoided being scammed. She was in the market for a parrot and stumbled on a post offering a pair of blue and gold macaw parrots.

Suspecting it was a scam, Sunny read through the posting very carefully. Because it made reference to Animalcouriers, she checked our website and found our page of tips to help avoid scams.

She wrote to say:

“I can’t thank you enough for listing all the possible clues to completely verify this too-good-to-be-true offer. Here are the clues that applied to this person:

  • I was offered the animal for free (with a sob story)
  • I was asked to pay for transport
  • the owner was located in Cameroon
  • the email offering the parrots, and subsequent emails about them, were written in poor English”

Visit our web page on animal scams to find out more.

Dean avoids a scam with help from Animalcouriers

When Dean contacted us for a transport quote to Gloucester for two puppies he’d been offered from Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, we warned him it might be a scam.

Why did we think that? Because Kirkwall is given as the location in a lot of puppy scams we hear about.

Having taken what we had to say on board, Dean got back in touch to say:

“Thank you for your responses, they helped greatly as did reading your scam warning page. After which it felt like it was a scam. So we decided to carry on looking for a puppy elsewhere and consequently have bought one. So it all worked out well. Thank you again, as we feel you stopped us from making a major mistake.”

Animalcouriers website helps Jason avoid being scammed

We recently heard from Jason who responded to an advertiser on the Friday-Ad website who was offering a puppy.

Because the puppy was supposedly coming from “the other end of the country”, Jason was told it would be delivered by a “UK Animals Delivery Service” courier.

Very wisely, Jason looked that delivery company up on the web, and found it didn’t exist. He did, however, find the Animalcouriers website, and read our page that’s designed to help people avoid being scammed.

Jason told us: “I wanted to thank you for the information on scammers on your site, as it was very informative and helpful… We have reported the ad to Friday-Ad.”

We’re very glad to have helped Jason avoid being scammed, and to hear that he’s reported the scam to the site that carried the bogus advert.

Animalcouriers website helps Sian avoid a scam

We recently heard from Sian, who used the information on the Animalcouriers website to avoid a puppy scam that would have lost her £175.

She told us:

“I thought I’d email and thank you for the info on puppy scammers that you have on your site. It just saved me from being scammed out of £175. I suspected that the offer of a puppy so cheap was too good to be true and after a little digging I found out it was, thanks to your site. I’ve reported the would-be scammer to Action Fraud. Thanks again!”

The rate of scams is hotting up

Scammers operate in many fields, and the field of animals is no exception. When we realised that our company name was being used by scammers to add legitimacy to their operations, we quickly published a web page of hints and tips aimed at helping people avoid getting scammed.

A typical animal-related scam revolves around offering an animal for free — such as a puppy, a parrot or a monkey — via email or the internet, with only the cost of the transport to be paid. The scammer says they will arrange the animal’s transport on behalf of the client. The client is then asked to pay the transport costs by money transfer (Western Union or MoneyGram), often to a payee in Cameroon.

Whether or not you notice anything else odd about the communication, such as poor spelling and grammar or unusual-looking phone numbers, two things should alert you to the likelihood that it’s a scam:

  • The animal being offered for free
  • The request to pay the transport costs (or any other costs, like insurance) by money transfer

When we first published our page about scams, we were getting a couple of calls or emails a week from people worried that they were being scammed. Sadly, many of them checked with us only after they’d arranged the money transfer. Of course, in none of these cases was there ever really an animal, and these poor people were never able to recoup their cash.

These days, we get as many as four or five calls and emails every day. But we’re pleased to say that people are getting smarter — increasingly they’re reading our web page and checking with us before they part with any money.

So remember, if anyone offers you an animal (or anything else, for that matter) and the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if you’re asked to pay any fees by money transfer, think very hard before you do so — no reputable company will ever ask you to do this.

Two of the people we helped avoid being scammed over the past week were Terrell from the US and Kevin from England. Terrell had been offered two Yorkie pups from Turkey, and Kevin a West Highland pup from Scotland. Based on the information provided on our website and by email, both avoided falling prey to the scammers.

“I thought there was something strange going on, with the person suggesting that they arrange the courier service… Thanks to your website, the scamming info, we haven’t continued with it,” said Kevin.

And from Terrell: “OMG! Thank u sooo much, I have not sent any money! Thanks to u! I really do appreciate it! Ur such a life/money saver! and from now on I will never fall for anything that says FREE on the internet especially if it’s from another country… you’re the best!”

Helping prevent scams around the world

Animalcouriers hears from people in many different countries who are at risk of being scammed by someone offering them an animal that doesn’t exist.

When scammers use our name fraudulently to lend credibility to their offer — usually by naming us as the animal’s shipper — they tend to include a link to our home page. Clicking on the ‘Be Scam Aware‘ button on our home page lets people get some guidance on how to avoid being scammed.

The most recent email we had from a potential scam victim came from Poland. Luckily, the lady in question read our guidance page and contacted us immediately. Because of her sensible action and our quick response, she didn’t part with any money and avoided all the pain and disappointment of a falling victim to a scam.

Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone offers you an animal and you have any doubt about the genuine nature of the offer, check our website or get in touch with us.