Online Scam Targets Pet Lovers

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

I love my dog, 60lb German Shepherd. Small for a GS, she was the runt. I’ve always rooted for the underdog. The underdog has more heart, more passion and they try harder. My GS is a perfect example.  She’s my second in 20 years. After the first one passed, another was in my house 4 months later. With a wife who was 4 months pregnant. That was a fought contest between man and wife that was won when the runt fell on the feet of the wife at the kennel. I had nothing to do with it!

My dog watches the house when I’m gone. She is me, but furrier. She hears and sees things like I do. Shes territorial and knows when something is OK, and when it isn’t. We both bark too. Some say I’m half Italian, half German Shepherd! I have to be careful about disciplining someone who might trespass into my yard in front of the dog. When I use a confrontational or stern voice to a stranger, the dog goes nuts, as she should.

It doesn’t matter how big or small a dog is. Most, but not all dogs have a territorial instinct. This is a good back up alarm, a good deterrent. And its not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that matters most.

This story caught my eye” A warning for internet users: an online scam targeting pet-lovers is circulating the web, and it could cost you more than a new pet.

An ad posted to a local online classified website by a man who claimed he was living in Florida. The seller said he had recently moved to Miami, and couldn’t keep his dog due to his new living conditions. He was willing to give the Labrador Retriever puppy named Dely away for the cost of shipping, which was $220.

The couple sent a delivery service $220 by way of Western Union. The delivery service told the family to send another $820 or risk losing the dog. That’s when the couple realized they’d been scammed. They told the person on the other end of the phone the deal was off. But the caller kept calling, becoming more aggressive each time.

“He kept calling me saying the dogs here,” said the victim. “Making me feel like this poor dog is sitting somewhere unattended.” When the caller realized the couple wasn’t sending the extra $820 he threatened to turn them into authorities and charge them with animal abandonment. “We didn’t know if something was really going to happen to us. We didn’t know if we could get in trouble.” They said. That’s when they decided to call police. Authorities were at their home in less than an hour. They looked at the emails, the website, and tried to trace the phone calls. Officials determined the entire thing was a scam.

Scammers will say and do anything to get a person to part with their money. At first they had a sob story that sounded like a legitimate issue, new housing, cant have a pet. When posted in a classified ad, it looks legitimate. Then they involved a “shipping company” that was a front for the scam. Once the victims were asked to send money via Western Union, that should have been a red-flag.

Its best to always do business like this locally. Never automatically trust over the phone or via the internet. Unless the business is one that is well established online, don’t ever send money that you cant get back. Money orders and wiring money have less security than a credit card does. Anytime the transaction involves wiring money, that’s a dead giveaway. In any virtual transaction, I’d suggest using a credit card, but not without first checking the legitimacy of the business or the individual. A quick scan online of a company, individual, or even the nature of a transaction can often provide enough information to make an informed decision.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing advanced fee scams on the Mike and Juliet Show. Disclosures

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