Woman loses $450 in Nigerian puppy sale scam

There’s a new twist on that Nigerian check cashing scam: puppies.

A Bethlehem, Pa. woman says she’s out $450 that she paid to buy two puppies from Nigeria.

Yes, Nigeria.

According to the Morning Call of Allentown the woman saw an advertisement for American Kennel Club registered puppies from Africa in a New Jersey newspaper. She alerted police only after the advertiser told her to send another $850 because the puppies were "held up" in transit in London.

Questionable puppy sales ads are cropping up on many newspaper Web sites. The Public Opinion of Chambersburg today has dozens of ads offering "free" or "rehomed" purebred dogs with the same pictures connected to sellers who allegedly live hundreds of miles away. In one case, the seller is supposedly 1,700 miles away - in Wyoming. There is some policing going on out in cyberspace. The headline in one ad for "highly socialized French Bulldog puppies" - that also appears on philly.com - says the seller has been "suspended." But there are many others with similar, cute pictures of puppies in baskets or draped in flowers that smack of a scam.

The AKC's list of puppy buyer tips includes this one:  

If you located a breeder through a web site, don’t ever send money without speaking to him/her on the phone and checking their references/credentials first. Unscrupulous breeders and even outright scams can be represented by professional-looking web sites that lure you in with beautiful pictures of adorable puppies that don’t actually exist. Be especially wary of any breeder who insists that you wire money and who calls to ask for more money to be wired to cover last minute shipping fees. [The organization also recommends confirming that the person claiming to sell AKC-registered dogs is in fact a member by checking with the local club.]

Many animal welfare experts caution against buying puppies on the Internet.