CLEVELAND - Thinking of surprising the kids or your spouse with a puppy under the Christmas tree? You could be the next victim of a puppy scam.
A Cleveland woman lost $500 to a puppy scam earlier this year when she went to coolpups.net. Coolpups.net displays many pictures of adorable Bulldogs and claims their Bulldogs are "…some of the very best bulldog bloodlines you will find anywhere…" that are ".....raised in our home environment starting with our children and now with our grandchildren." The website does not list an address, email or phone number – just a form to submit electronically for more information.
After requesting more information, the Cleveland woman received an email from Krispin York who claimed all her bulldog pups had already been sold. York recommended the buyer contact Dr. Cesar Morenze, a breeder who had puppies available.
After contacting Morenze and selecting the puppy she wanted, she was then contacted by Cali Pet Freight who needed $500 to ship the puppy. The Cleveland woman was instructed to pay the fee using Zip Zap, a payment service for online purchases. She paid the fee but, instead of getting a puppy, she received a request for more money.
Cali Pet wanted $170 for a new crate and $200 for insurance before they could ship the puppy. At this point, the consumer began to suspect she was being scammed and refused to send any additional fees.
Coolpups.net's domain name was registered in July of this year by Teresa Gulledge using an Illinois address. Gulledge is also identified as the registrar for at least three other websites offering bull dog puppies:
(and many other sites – most of which have been taken down)
The phone number provided for Gulledge on the registration belongs to a radiology center in Illinois who was not aware of Gulledge or the website.
The Cleveland BBB had a similar experience when we posed as a prospective puppy purchaser. We were referred by coolpups.net to a "Dr. Paul" who claimed to have three puppies for sale for $450 each. Photographs were sent of the three available puppies. A quick check on the properties information of the pictures indicated one photograph was taken in 2009 and another in 2010. Hardly puppies.
If you are considering a new puppy, BBB and the American Kennel Club offer the following advice:
Never send money without first checking a breeder or shelter's credentials. If you locate a puppy through a website, do not send money without speaking to the breeder and checking references and credentials first. Ask if the breeder is a member of an American Kennel Club-affiliated club and contact the club to verify membership. Always check out the business's BBB Business Review at http://www.clevelandbbb.org
Don't support puppy mills. Unless you can visit the breeding facility before the purchase and bring your puppy home personally, do not purchase a puppy from a website. When you have a puppy shipped from another area, you don't know how that puppy has been treated, how healthy or young it is, or whether or not the puppy exists at all.
Don't be fooled by a well designed website. Unscrupulous scammers will often create a professional-looking but fraudulent website designed to lure the potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.Beware of scammers who offer to "re-home" their purebred puppy in exchange for transportation or vaccination fees. If a free purebred puppy sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers will continually ask for more money for unexpected, and fraudulent, costs.