Sunday, October 08, 2006

herald.com classifieds, a haven for scammers - UPDATED

I received a report from a reader that the pet classified ads at herald.com are a haven for internet crooks perpetuating a variation of the "Nigerian" scam. The reader was interested in buying a Yorkie and responded to an ad in the herald.com classifieds. He then received the following email:

thanks for your mail regarding my puppy,she is still available to any one
prepare to provide her with enought care and love,where she will be well spoilt
with all he need.she is 10weeks old and has very good temparement with kids and
other pets,very playful love to play around with toys and kids,she is health
guaranteed and registered,vet checked.she is up to date on all her shots and
will be coming along side she health papers and vet records.she is called Lily .
I am located in cameroon.Please may i ask you a few questions?where are you
located?are you a breeder?i will be waiting for your mail asap
My tipster notified the Herald "almost two weeks ago" and was contacted by a reporter, but the paper has yet to report on the matter and the questionable ads seem to still be running. Tonight I clicked on this ad for a 10 week-old bulldog puppy and submitted my email asking for the price of the dog and where the dog was located. Note the claim in the ad that the puppy is already potty trained, that got me laughing right there. This is the response I received:
hello thanks for the response. yes i still have a 9 weeks old puppy
whom i call gender. gender is an excelent pet,she has a very
beautiful head, ears
and coat. She has been raised in the home with lots of love and
care, and is well socialized, angelic baby gender behaves to well.
she loves toys alot and plays about with them like a 3 year old
girl. gender will yeal when she sees me comming home. she is very
used to staying in or out of the house.she has no problem where
ever i keep her. gender loves people and most espercialy
children.very fine with other animals as well
she loves being carried all the time. gender is such a wondeful puppy.
how
i love her.her face is just too adorable.this little girl loves to run
and
play.likes to stop and smell flowers.she is a pleasure to have
around,she
is very friendly,playfull and has a very good
behavior,she will come along with all her papers,toys and a 1
year health guarantee. she will bring so much love and joy to your
home or family.
i am forced to give her to another home as i will be travelling out. so
please if you are interested then you have to be snappy.also i will be
shipping her from belgium, that is
where i am located and her safe delivery to you is guarantee.she
will only take a few hours to reach you.
thanks for your time and i hope to hear from you.
have a nice day and God Bless you.
I responded with this message:
Doesn't a dog like that have to be quarantined before it can enter the USA?

How much do you want for her?
And immediately received this message:
hello my dear
please you donot have to worry cos with all the legal,papers that
the puppy will be coming with you shall have no problem ok.
i will let her go for 550.00 with shipping ok.please get back as
soonest with your ful address and the closest air port to your
location ok.i will get the puppy a flight were upon delivery at the
airport the AATA will get her to your home ok..
thanks
get back soon
Notice the terrible spelling and grammar common to all of the responses. Apparently these scammers are attempting to prey on gullible people that want to buy a dog worth thousands of dollars for a fraction of that, delivered. The tipster realized that this was too good to be true and followed through but the Herald has done nothing to date.

A few months ago the Herald's executive editor, Tom Fiedler, sent a memo to Herald newsroom employees about how the Herald is moving into the Internet age. He boasted about Internet ad revenues exceeding projections:
*We're making money. In the first quarter of this year,
our websites exceeded even optimistic revenue estimates
by $2.2 million.
I wonder how much of that revenue is coming from unpoliced scam ads in their classifieds.

UPDATE: I investigated a little more and found that these types of ads are currently free. That's probably why they are atrracting the scammers. [See Blogs are capable of further investigation and correction.]

Let the buyer beware if you are looking for a Chihuahua or any other type of dog on the Herald's web site.

2 comments:

Val Prieto said...

Your last line is absolute brilliance.

Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Chihuahuas have nothing to do with Cuba and are associated in the popular imagination with Mexico (in fact they are named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua).

The Cuban national dog is the Havanese (Bichon Havanais), which can trace its lineage back to 17th century Cuba. Like the chihuahua, the havanese is a toy dog; intensely loyal unto death and unafraid of larger dogs. Unlike the chihuahua, however, it recognizes its master's friends and will not bark or attack them. The havanese only nips at the heels of those who threaten it or its master.

There may still be a few havanese left in Cuba if the people haven't eaten them all. In the U.S., the breed was revived in the 1960s by an American breeder who was able to find 6 havanese that had been brought by their exiled owners to the U.S. before their exportation was forbidden by the Castro regime.