Help Catch These Two Criminals Selling Fake Puppies
Puppy For Sale Scam: How It Works
(with video below) If you're just about to buy a puppy, beware. Scammers advertise dogs for sale all over the Internet, with tag lines such as “The Perfect Birthday Gift for Your Kid” or a “Great Christmas Present!”. The scam is not new, but this time around we have names of the criminals too, as well as their location. Feel free to report any scammers yourself in the Comments section of this article, as well. Let's take a look.
Watch the video below to see in action a Puppy For Sale scam exposed:
This is what just happened to Gabriel Phelps from Venice Beach, California. He found a dog he really loved on RobFrenchBulldog.com, a scammy website that is now victimizing a lot of people. It operates from Cleveland, Ohio.
Phelps went on Rob French Bulldog's available puppies page and submitted his information in regards to a dog called Gus, image below. Little did he know that this little guy's picture has been advertised as a 'puppy for sale' since 2014. The websites this image has been on are Oodle, DapsAnimals, Sunshine Coast Classifieds, etc.
The Scammers? Two Guys With Heavy African Accents Living in Cleveland
As soon as the victim showed his interest for Gus, he received messages from James Crowle and Frank Derksen, the 'owners' of the site. He was asked to pay $500 via Western Union or Wal-Mart (through Ria Financial Services). He chose the latter. The address that the scammers provided for the transfer was: 9609 Cardwell Ave, Cleveland, OH 44105 (South Broadway).
Once Gabriel sent the payment and the Wal-Mart invoices to Crowle and Derksen, he started chatting with them via phone. “They have very heavy African accents, but they told me to send the money to Cleveland, on Frank's name”, said the victim.
As he was thinking he'll get the puppy, Phelps received an unexpected email, from a fake delivery service called 'Pet Safe Delivery Express'. He was informed that the dog is stuck in the Kansas Airport. Why?
Beware of the Fake City Permit Licence For Pet Delivery
Phelps was asked to provide a licence. In a bad English grammar, the email stated:
“We have been stuck here at Kansas City International Airport (KS) and can not get into your state due to the absence of an import city permit license by the authorities. This is to avoid scam and theft of puppy. We will urge you to own an import permit license for your puppy. This is to show that you have the legal right to import a pet into your city.
You can Contact us in Cleveland, OH to go to the office and obtain this License from them in Cleveland, OH or you send the money to the Pet-Safe Delivery Service to provide you the legal imported city permit license. The License is expensive and 100 % refundable to you okay. It is very important and affordable. We are doing out normal deliveries and we are taking care of your pet very well. No charges will be asked of you any more once you obtain the permit.”
With the promise that he will get his money back the next day when the dog gets to his location, Phelps was convinced by Crowle and Derksen to send the licence money, $620.
After that, the crooks continued to tell Phelps that the puppy is in transit, until he realized that has been scammed and contacted us.
Unfortunately, may victims refuse to believe that they've been taken for a ride. If criminals feel there is more room for sqeezing money out of their victims after the 'City Licence' trick, they could say that the dog got sick and needed immediate attention. That implies money for medication.
How To Know If The Seller Is a Scammer
First advice? Buy pets from your own town – there must be some that need love. This way, you can go and pick them up yourself. Report a scammer in the comments section below.
If you are in doubt about the authenticity of the offer, do a reverse image search on the pictures of the dog you want to buy. For example, we did one for Gus (Phelps' dog above) and it showed that the same images have been used on many websites, some of them dating since 2015! See below:
You can use TinEye for any reverse image search.
Puppy For Sale Scam: How To Report
Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You'll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
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