December 15, Milwaukee, Wis. – The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin is issuing an alert regarding a scam website luring puppy purchasers after a local man lost $1,300.
Dan H. from Oshkosh, was interested in purchasing a puppy for his fiancé for Christmas. So, in early December he started shopping the internet for the perfect bulldog. He came across a website: www.thebulldogheavens.com and called the long-distance phone number; 213-533-2786. While the site states “we’re a small kennel in Minneapolis, MN”, area code “213” is a Los Angeles area code. They do not provide an address.
Dan says all his conversations were with a man with a foreign accent who did not provide his name. The man promised him a bulldog puppy for $1,300 and Dan wire transferred the money, as instructed. The puppy was to arrive via an American Airlines flight the following day, December 8th. However, the night before, Dan called the airline to verify the flight and time…and realized there was no such flight or time.
The following day, Dan received a call from the man saying he was at the Minneapolis airport but unable to ship the dog due to “problems” including additional paperwork needed and an additional $378 for “extra costs”, which he asked Dan to pay. Dan refused and the man called back, again, asking him to split the cost and send half. Dan refused again and, to date, calls and e-mails to the company have gone unanswered.
This is a scam. The BBB has learned that the fraudulent website has not only hijacked the similar name of a legitimate Texas business, but it also stole and unlawfully used its photographs, as well.
According to domain information, the fraudulent website was recently created, October 27, 2011. It contains misspelled words and grammatical errors. And, when you call the phone number, 213-533-2786, you reach a recording, stating “The magic jack customer you have called is unavailable.”
The Magic Jack is a “Voice Over Internet Protocol” system. According to its website, you can “choose a unique phone number, which will allow you to receive free phone calls over the internet.” The device also allows you to make international calls for free (using a local, U.S. phone number, giving the appearance the caller is located in the U.S. when he or she may not be).
Both the legitimate Texas business and the Oshkosh consumer have filed police reports and alerted other law enforcement of their experience. Unfortunately, however, the chance of Dan getting his money back is unlikely, since it was sent via Western Union. The perpetrators of this scam are likely located outside the United States.
The Better Business Bureau issues the following tips if you are interested in purchasing a puppy outside your state:
- Always check out a company with the BBB before doing business.
- Beware of unreasonably low prices or the promise of “shipping” included.
- Beware of the urgency to make an immediate purchase. Never feel pressured to make a decision immediately.
- Under no circumstances should you send money to anyone outside the U.S.
- NEVER, ever pay via wire transfer. Only pay with a credit card, which offers more protection.
Always get a complete name, address, e-mail address and phone number of the seller that you can verify.
- Ask for a photo of the seller WITH the dog you wish to purchase.
- Be leery if the seller refuses to talk to you via phone and/or keeps the conversations brief.
- Beware of ads or websites with misspellings and grammatical errors; many pet scams come from overseas, so scammers usually do not have a good grasp on the English language.
For more information, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). You can check out a company or find a BBB-accredited company by contacting the BBB online at wisconsin.bbb.org.