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Dog Lovers Warned About Online Puppy Scam

Think that puppy in the e-mail looks cute?

You'd better ignore it. The American Kennel Club and the Council of Better Business Bureaus are warning consumers about a new e-mail scam that is conning people into spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on puppies that they actually never receive.

"Because of the emotional investment, consumers are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of when it comes to a cute, cuddly puppy than with any other purchase," said Lisa Peterson, an AKC spokeswoman, in a written statement. "A dog is a major investment -- a living, breathing being who will rely on you for 10 years or more. Take time to educate yourself on the hallmarks of a legitimate and responsible breeder."

Both the AKC and the business bureau report they've recently received complaints from people who have lost money after responding to online solicitations or newspaper ads about puppies for sale. The scammer, who generally poses as a breeder, either sends out e-mails or puts up ads offering up free or inexpensive puppies. The ads have been spotted on MySpace postings, Web sites, and in newspaper classified sections. The scammer claims he's affiliated with a religious organization and is being relocated to a foreign country and needs to find a new home for the puppies.

"The consumer can be taken in by the sincerity of the scammer, who'll say that they don't care about money and just want to find a good home for their beloved puppies," said Steve Cox, VP of communications for the CBBB, in a written statement. "But then the fees for shipping the pet mount up and the consumer can lose hundreds of dollars before realizing they've been conned and will never get their puppy."

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