The internet is an amazing place, you can find it all with a simple search

The Internet is an amazing place, you can find it all with a simple search. The endless possibilities and capabilities of the Internet, make it a easy place for con artist and criminals to target victims. There is a criminal organization known as the 419 Mafia, they are criminals based in Cameroon, Nigeria, and Africa, the majority of the time. We have all seen the E-mails about winning the Euro Lottery, and the sad stories of how the Prince of some country needs your help to secure a huge fortune that has been left to them by a relative, or the fake Email’s from E-bay, various banks and other “fishing type Email’s, these are all criminals who are members of this, so called “419 Mafia”. Over the last few years most people have seen these scams so often, they just simply pay them no mind and delete them from their Email, but this one very popular scam just seems to grow and grow. This is a scam where a crook places an ad in a newspaper, or on a web site, offering various kinds of Pets for adoption, all you need to do is pay the very small shipping charge, and the pet is yours. Although there are many different stories on their reasoning for having to let these pets go, the end result is always the same, you lose your money.

Here is a commonly used scenario, you see an ad for pure bred Yorkie puppies in the classifieds, the ad advertises the puppies as free to adopt, you contact the person who placed the ad, they claim to be in the United States and they can no longer take care of the puppies due to poor living conditions, or lack of time due to the fact that they are missionaries and to busy to care for the pups any longer. They will claim that they had to go to Africa,  Cameroon or some other foreign location,  because they are missionaries, and need you to Western Union them a small amount of money usually in the one hundred and fifty dollar to three hundred and fifty dollar range, oh yeah, and it needs to be sent to Cameroon, in order to pay the shipping company who will be handling the transport of the pet. Now these crooks go on the Internet and find real pet transport companies, they tell you that the real legitimate company will be handling all of the arrangements, they copy the company site and send you an Email with the web site replica, just the phone numbers and Email addresses are changed, otherwise an exact copy. You, as the unsuspecting victim search for the pet transport company, find that they are a real company, with a real site, and now decide to send the money to them. Not realizing that the Email is a copy, and this person is a crook. They send you another Email with all of the details on how to send them the money, who to send it to, where to send it etc. You hear nothing from them for a day or so, suddenly they contact you in the middle of the night with a story of how the pet is stuck in the UK and they need another one thousand dollars for insurance, which will be returned to you once the pet arrives at your door. Of course the pet never does arrive at your door and your money is lost. Although this is a common scenario of this scam, there are many variations of this fraud, sometimes it is a parrot, a monkey or a kitten, sometimes they are with the USO, sometimes they are a priest or a reverend, some things always remain the same in this scam, they always ask for a Western Union payment, even when they claim that you can pay upon delivery, they will still insist at some point that you send a Western union payment when it comes down to it. Another thing that is always the same, is the free Email services they use such as, Yahoo.com, Gmail.com, Hotmail.com and any other free Email service they can find.

There are a handful of professional pet shipping companies on the Internet who are really feeling the effects of this fraud. It is giving real companies a bad reputation, and there is little recourse action for them to take. Many of these companies have put warnings and disclaimers on their sites to try to warn the unsuspecting. We spoke to a few companies who said that they get phone calls everyday from victims, wanting to know when the puppy or pet will be delivered. Of course these companies have no idea about these pets and have to tell these people that they are victims of fraud. IPATA which is the organization that all major pet transport companies belong to, actually had a guest speaker come to their conference in NYC this year to talk about ways to stop this scam. The problem with these criminals is that they are not in the United States, and there really is not much that can be done. I think the brunt of the blame should really be put on Western Union, they know all about this scam, yet refuse to put a blanket statement out to their different branches to warn people. We contacted Western Union about this, they simply said it was against their policy to make suggestions, or ask questions about funds being sent. The worst part about that, is when we first called they said that they are well aware of this scam, and apologized for not being able to warn people? A simple warning or disclaimer in their system about money being sent to Cameroon for a pet adoption, would most certainly do the trick.
This scam is not limited to the U.S these crooks also target victims in the UK,Australia,Canada,Scotland and many other places as well, although the scam is the same, they require payment in the form of Money Gram instead of Western Union from other countries.

This has been going on for at least five years, and compared to all of the other scams out there, seems to be getting worse. The best advice to avoid this fraud, is to take the proper steps to make sure that these claims are real and not scams designed to rip you off. Even if you find that these crooks are claiming that real companies, are either handling the delivery, or claim that they are actually employees of that company, always search for that companies site, and use the contact information such as Email, and phone numbers on the site, and not in the Email you received. Anyone can claim anything, chances are if someone is asking for payment by Western Union to another country, they are not legitimate. Another good way to insure that you are dealing with a real service, is to search the name of the person that has contacted you, if they are who they say they are, there should be some search results to support that, if not, than it is a crook trying to steal your money. Since nothing seems to slow this fraud down, perhaps the best action is to spread the word. Sometimes, and almost always on the Internet, things that sound to good to be real usually are fake, spread the word.

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