I was pretty sure that it couldn’t get much lower than the phantom puppy scam – that’s the one where some seemingly broken hearted owner can no longer keep his dog (which just happens to be a purebred French Bulldog/English Bulldog/Teacup Yorkie/Popular Breed puppy), and wants to give it away for ‘free’ to a good owner. All you are required to pay is the shipping cost, which is usually quoted as something ridiculously, like $400.
Unfortunately, that low shipping price rapidly escalates to well into the thousands of dollars, what with import taxes and quarantine fees and other miscellaneous charges – and in the end, there is no puppy. What there is, is a scammer – usually in Nigeria, Cote D’Azure, Cameroon, or some other African country, sometimes working with a partner here in North America, sometimes acting solely from overseas.
While that’s pretty low all on it’s own, much to my surprise, it CAN get lower. Let’s call this new twist the ‘phantom babies’ scam.
The ad was first published on WiseCounty.com in the free classified ad section. The ad lists a price tag of $12 and was first posted on May 15. It reads:
“Please, I need someone with best intentions to adopt/give my babies a good family, home/lifestyle. The babies are in excellent health conditions with good weights, encouraging medical reports and are very playful. I’m healthy except of being physically disabled, a Christian by faith, not a smoker and hates alcohol. I gave birth to this twin at the appropriate time given at the hospital. Sincerely, I love the babies extremely much; the decision to give them up hasn’t been that easy but its necessary, my intentions are base on get the babies nothing order than a very lovely home and family that I trust to be very determination to welcome, raise them with much love/ great concerned for their welfare, future etc that will be best for the babies. Please, I will be extremely happy to blessed any good person or couples with my babies only if he/or she stand with good intentions of offering the babies with best. I’m hopefully looking forward to read from you.”
Just as with the phantom puppy scam (where the ads for a Bulldog might show photos of a Boston), the scammers don’t pay very much attention to details. The photos in the ad show two healthy baby boys, at least two years old, if not older.
The other similarities are the grammatical errors in the writing, which are very similar to those commonly found in the phantom puppy ads. Both types of ads read like they’ve been written by fairly good ESL students. The other similarity is the claim of being a Christian – the puppy scam generally claims that the puppy is with a missionary in Africa, and insists on finding them a ‘good Christian home’.
There have been rumors about this new twist happening on a few of the scam forums I read, but this is the first newspaper coverage of it I’ve read.
If you think there were a lot of people desperate for cheap puppies, imagine how many people are going to get sucked in by *this* version.