The Sanford Police Department has issued a warning to Facebook users about a scam involving fake puppy sale posts.

Do You Know Anyone Who's Experienced This Scam?

A few weeks ago, a woman I know posted pictures of some of the cutest puppies I've ever seen. The post said that they needed to find homes for these 8 unexpected puppies and were only asking for a rehoming fee. I asked in the comments about how many males and females were in the litter. Almost immediately, I had a private message with one line - "Do you want a puppy?" No hello, no details, no answer to my question. So I replied that I was just curious. Again, she replied with the same line. I got suspicious and suspended the conversation. The very next day, 'her' page (which I figured out was cloned by spammers) had pictures of a whole different litter of puppies, looking to be rehomed.

How Does it Work?

After this experience, I wasn't surprised when I read a post on the Sanford Police Department's Facebook page, warning people about puppy sale scams. They say that the scammer will give the potential purchaser an address where they can meet up to pick up the puppies, but requires that they receive payment first. The address is genuine but the people living there are not selling puppies. By then, the money is gone and the scammer is in the wind.

How Do I Avoid Falling Victim?

Police advise never paying for pets until you've actually, physically seen the animals for yourself. This is like a new version of the homebuyer/apartment renter scam, in which the scammer requires an application fee before you actually see the residence. In reality, that residence usually isn't even available for sale/rent and the scammer has nothing to do with the property.

The dog-selling device is an effective scam because nearly everyone loves a cute puppy. But until you've snuggled that supersoft head to your cheek and smelled the milk breath for yourself, don't fork over any money.

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