Dog lovers hit by Nigerian 'bulldog scam'

March 5, 2008 9:39:20 AM PST
Scam artists are using the lure of free bulldog puppies to con dog lovers out of their money. In a twist on their usual e-mail scams, Nigerian con men are taking out newspaper advertisements offering purebred English bulldog puppies for adoption. Victims who respond to the ads are informed that the puppy can only be obtained after wire transferring hundreds of dollars overseas in vaccination and shipping fees. Of course, no puppy is ever delivered.

Despite a consumer alert on puppy scams last year by the Better Business Bureau and the American Kennel Club, a new wave of phony solicitations offering free bulldog puppies has surfaced in the last few months. Two weeks ago, an advertisement appeared in the Las Vegas Journal-Review offering "English bulldog AKC Male & Female Puppies available for adoption...w/ Champion bloodlines and will come with a pedigree, micro chip, a 1 year guarantee against congenital defects." The seller was identified as "Pastor Simpson" and could only be reached through a Yahoo e-mail address.

When a reporter from the Review contacted the e-mail address listed on the ad, he was informed that the seller was "prensently [sic] in Africa on a Missionary program" and that he was giving one of his bulldogs away for free adoption because "the African weather is not good for the healthy [sic] of these puppies." The seller also sent photos of the two male and two female puppies he said were available for adoption after a shipping fee of $355 was sent.

Free or low-cost English bulldogs can be an enticing lure for dog lovers because a purebred bulldog puppy can cost as much as $3,000, according to Ray Knudson, editor of the Bulldogger newsletter. Knudson says "demand is great" for English bulldog puppies because they are a "man-made breed and it's hard to produce live puppies." According to Knudson, people interested in obtaining a purebred bulldog should contact a reliable breeder.