AARP AARP States Illinois

Look…He’s So Cute…And FREE!!

Welcome back to “Oh NO You Don’t” – our bi-weekly fraud blog post by yours truly, Terri Worman, Associate State Director here at AARP Illinois.

FINALLY the weather is feeling more like spring…warmer breezes and sunshine! People are taking those first walks outdoors in neighborhoods and parks all across the country. And inevitably you see perfect strangers exchanging grins and “can I pet ‘em?” questions as they stoop to pet the cutest puppy you ever saw!!

"I Need A New Home and I'm FREE!"

Well, sorry to have to mess up that idyllic picture with yet ANOTHER scam being perpetrated by criminals worldwide. Yes, Fraud Fighters…it’s the puppy scam!

I learned about this one when my colleague Heather tweeted about a news report from KFDA NewsChannel 10 out of Amarillo, TX. An unsuspecting man saw an item on a Facebook trading post page that offered Siberian Husky puppies for free…the woman said her husband was in the hospital and it was too hard to take care of them and they needed a good home. The man wanted to help out and sent $200 to have the puppies shipped to him. When the puppies didn’t arrive, he called back and she asked him to send another $500 for the crate and vaccination shots! He realized he had been scammed!!

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people to beware of Internet, email and physical ads that offer puppies for free. They say these criminals are often originating from Africa and Europe and can use legitimate sites like Craigslist to lure people into the scam. More often than not, there is NO PUPPY to start with! The BBB cautions you to:

  • beware of ads with multiple misspellings and grammatical errors since overseas criminals do not always have a firm grasp of the English language
  • do not send or wire money to another person you don’t know (note: I have talked to law enforcement and the likelihood you will ever get money back from scams, especially ones where you wired money, is near 0%)


The Dog Breed Info Center also offers tip and warnings about pure breed puppy scams, including cautioning people to look closely at websites and the pictures – often the pictures are stolen from other websites and that picture of the male Beagle puppy is really a female Basset Hound! They also offered some great tips for scams in general:

  • Check the area code of the phone number in Reverse Area Code – does it actually match the area where the “breeder” said they are from?
  • Sometimes criminals cut and paste text from other websites.  Google some text and see if it shows up elsewhere – if it does, it’s a red flag!
  • Click here to check the website domain name.  Put the website name into the “WHOIS Lookup” – does the country for the domain match the website address?


Look Fraud Fighters…there are plenty of dogs and puppies out there in need of good homes in shelters all across the country! With today’s digital technology capabilities, anyone can create a website, copy pictures and text from legitimate sites and lure you in! Puppies and other cute baby animals make many of us smile broadly and, for a few briefs moments, long for one to take home. I encourage you to read the comment sections for both the BBB and Dog Breed Info Center if you need a harsh reality check!

Until next time, Fraud Fighters…be well, be safe…and just say “Oh NO You Don’t!”

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