“Gemma,” the brown-and-white boxer puppy, couldn’t have been cuter. He was 12 weeks old and appeared to be very intelligent in his picture. But before the day was out, he’d ripped a big hole in a Michigan woman’s chequebook.
And shatter her heart.
Those big eyes can trick you into doing anything – and the scammers aren’t aware of it. It’s a warning worth repeating during the holiday season, when many people shop for puppies and other pets online.
Fortunately, the online seller has a litter of puppies available in time for Christmas. The problem is, you’re unlikely to see that dog again, and you’ll be out a crateful of cash.
How one online puppy scam played out
“I’ve been looking for a puppy boxer. And I’ve been surfing the web “Joan Reddout of Vassar, Michigan, agreed.
She began her search in Michigan, but the breeders she found were selling show-quality purebred boxers for anywhere from $1,800 to $3,000 for their puppies.
“I can’t afford it,” Reddout, 72, a former home health aide, said. She hasn’t worked in a year due to a car accident and immune system issues.
“All I wanted was a boxer puppy.”
Then, in early October, she came across someone selling boxers out of Billings, Montana, which are known for their short, shiny coats and playful personalities. The puppies were registered with the American Kennel Club, but they weren’t show line dogs with four-figure price tags. The puppies were raised and socialised with children.
She wasn’t bothered by the distance.
“I spoke with people who had gotten puppies from out of state, and they did fine,” she said.
When Reddout dialled the number listed, the seller happened to be shipping out puppies later that day. If she could get him the money right away, “Gemma” could be flown to the nearest airport, Saginaw, and then delivered to her house. She could have the puppy delivered to her house that night.
“He’s attentive, lovable, and gives kisses,” one email exchange said of the boxer.
The puppy was $600, plus $155 for shipping, for a total of $755.
She wasn’t bothered by the send-money-now pitch.
The seller appeared to be sincere. He was curious about how she planned to care for the dog. Did she have any prior experience with dogs? Would she be able to take the dog for a walk? How did you find the neighbourhood?
Reddout admitted that she prefers to see a puppy in person. It is frequently not possible when dogs are sold online and shipped from another state. She’d wait until she met the puppy and got a sense of his personality before deciding on a new name for “Gemma.”
Everything appeared to be fine to the retiree, who had raised boxers herself many years ago.