puppy scam

puppy scamA California woman recently almost fell victim to a nasty scam on eBay when she was looking for an Old English Sheepdog puppy. Chalk it up to the dog days of summer, or just to really awful people who are willing to break hearts and ruin lives for a quick buck.

Amy Green of Carlsbad reportedly told the San Diego Union-Tribune she was looking at classifieds on the online marketplace when she came across a post along with a photo of one of the “energetic” AKC puppies being offered.

According to the Union-Tribune, the ad said the dogs had been checked by a vet, were wormed, vaccinated and treated for fleas. It also said interested buyers should text (443)-832-3811 and did not list a price, the report said.

Green told the Union-Tribune that she texted asking for more information and received a reply saying the sheepdog pups were being sold for just $320, significantly less than the typical price for registered canines. The response also said the puppies were 12 weeks old with good temperaments, and included photos of the puppies, plus their names: Rocky, Ricky, Rose and Tina, according to the Union-Tribune report.

The person behind the text also asked Green a few questions to ensure her preferred puppy would be going to a good home. She told the Union-Tribune that she “happily answered and was already thinking about a name for her new best friend.”

“I had already fallen in love with the picture,” Green reportedly told the Union-Tribune. “I was going to send money the very next day.”

Is This Legit?

It was when her sister wondered out loud why the dogs were so cheap and then her husband, who is a lawyer, thought the ads looked suspicious that Green started doing some sleuthing. Sure enough, she found the same number advertising other breeds of puppies, the Union-Tribune reported. So, she sent another text from a different phone, this time asking about some boxer puppies.

The response reportedly came back: “Thanks for the interest to our lovely Puppies, They are known as Rocky, Ricky, Rose and Tina and they are 12 weeks old with good temperament.”

The rest of the information was verbatim to that for the sheepdogs, the Union-Tribune reported.

According to the report, “She responded by telling the sender that she was on to them, that she knew they were liars and that she would report them to police, who would track them down.”

“We will be waiting,” was the only response, the Union-Tribune reported.

A text sent from Credit.com to the phone number asking “Do you still have puppies?” was not returned, and a search on eBay for the number did not result in any current ad postings.

eBay did not immediately return a phone call requesting additional information on the puppy ads, but the company does post warnings on ads for animals: “Please take care when buying and selling animals. To avoid buying a sick pet or dealing with unscrupulous pet dealers, be sure to meet any animal and owner in person. Do not buy unless you can ensure that the animals are kept in sanitary and humane conditions.”

The company recommends that all transactions take place locally and in-person, warning that buyers should never send cash or wire money to sellers.

It also offers safety tips for avoiding online sales scams: “Scammers are relentless. They will use a variety of outlets to reach out to potential victims. They also change their tactics all the time to make it harder to ‘nail’ them. We at eBay Classifieds want you to have the safest experience possible when using our site. While we cannot guarantee the legitimacy of a poster or ad responder, we can definitely provide you with guidance on how to transact safely.”

If you’re looking for a specific breed of dog at a reduced price, it can be a good idea to check with local breed-specific rescue groups to see if they have any available dogs that might interest you. Local shelters are also a good option and both of these are far more reputable than some online sellers might be.

How to Avoid Possible Scams

Remember, anyone can be a target of scammers on the internet or in real life, but there are ways to avoid them: Don’t send a stranger your bank account information or personally identifying information. If you have a bad feeling about something, trust your instincts. Taking time to exercise caution or walking away from something suspicious is much better than losing money or having your identity stolen.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to regularly monitor your credit for signs of identity theft and fraud, because those things can also happen to anyone. The sooner you spot suspicious activity on your credit report, the faster you can fix it. You can get your free annual credit reports on AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can get two free credit scores and monthly updates on Credit.com.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com and was written by Constance Brinkley-Badgett.