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Internet Adoption Scams Involving Imported Pets

Maltese puppy.

A Maltese puppy. Image courtesy Jupiter Images.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has learned that Internet scammers are falsely representing themselves as CDC employees in e-mails to U.S. citizens.

In this scam, victims are asked to send money overseas to adopt a dog. The “importer” tells the victim that a CDC quarantine station is holding the dog and lists numerous conditions that must be met, including payment of fees, before the dog can be released.

CDC does not quarantine dogs, nor does it require a fee to bring them into the country.

Typical Animal Adoption Scams

CDC cautions consumers to be aware of the potential for fraud involving the commercial trade of animals. Similar scams have been reported for quite some time, usually involving dogs, cats, or monkeys. In most of these scams, victims respond to newspaper or Internet ads offering animals for adoption in exchange for shipping costs.

Typically, the person offering the animal for adoption lives in another country and claims to be looking for a good home for the animal. Victims pay shipping fees up front but never receive the animal. In many cases, they learn that the animal never existed and/or that it is illegal to import certain animals (such as nonhuman primates) as pets.

Tips for Avoiding Animal Adoption Scams

  • Be extremely cautious of offers for animal adoptions from overseas.
  • Check all references the importer provides.
  • Independently verify each piece of information given to you about a potential international pet adoption. For example, if the importer gives you the telephone number of the airline they will be using to send the animal, look up the telephone number for that airline yourself through the telephone directory or the internet and call the airline to verify the shipping information provided by the importer.
  • Avoid situations in which money is requested before shipment.
  • Learn about federal requirements for shipping animals such as dogs, cats, and monkeys by reading Bringing an Animal into the United States.
  • Report scams to the Internet site or newspaper posting the classified advertisement, and consider reporting Internet Fraud to federal authorities.
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 
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