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I Almost Bit… and Would’ve Been Bitten By @PSilvas | @ThingsExpo #IoT

Scams and scammers are all over the place and even seasoned folks can get caught up

My daughter has been asking for a puppy for over a year. A Chow puppy. I’ve had Chow Chows my entire life and our current Chow, Max, is a big 72lb cinnamon boy. He’s also the medical alert dog for our daughter. Max, a rescue, is about 5 years old and we wanted to get a puppy so Max-Boy can help train the new fur-ball.

With the amount of travel I do, we’ve been pushing it off for a while but it came to a head this week since the kid is now on summer vacation and the pleas have been daily. Instead of ‘Are we there yet, are we there yet,’ it has been, ‘When are we getting a puppy? When are we getting a puppy?!?

CoconutSo I looked. Specifically for a recently born cream female.

And wouldn’t you have guessed, I found some! And even found one that would’ve been about an hour driving distance. So I emailed them. Within the hour we get an email back telling us that the puppy is available but the family is in Fargo, ND due to the mother recently passing away. They are selling the pups, which were their mom’s, since they remind them of their mum and it hurts to see the pups. He also asks a bunch of questions like, How old? Married? Have kids? Location? Why this Breed, etc. It didn’t occur to me that the text of the email was written like so many scam emails with poor punctuation, bad sentence structure and a few things that didn’t add up. I was so excited to have quickly found, at a reasonable price, the puppy of my daughter’s dreams.

Then we spoke and I started digging.

He had an accent like so many of those ‘This is MS security and your Windows computer is doing bad things…let me connect.’ But again, I didn’t want to categorize this guy just by an accent if he was really legit. But I did warn him that my wife is a retired US Marshall and if this was a scam, she’d be on his tail. He didn’t seem concerned and continued to push for the sale. I told him that we had family across the border in Minnesota and could they visit to see the pup. While hesitant, he said yes and provided an address. I looked up the address and it was an apartment building and according to one of the sites, no pets allowed. Hmmm.

He also had an odd name – one that I couldn’t find in any search. Path. Path was his name.

While on the phone, I started to find a bunch of rip-off reports about a lady with the same phone number as Path. He said it was his wife but had no idea about the bad reviews. I also asked him about his ‘home’ number and wife’s email being listed on a scammers website. I mean, you gotta really be doing something bad to actually make it on one of these lists. He never answered that question but did happily send pictures of the pup.

That’s where he messed up.

We thought two of the pictures looked familiar and did an image search. Wouldn’t ya know, those pictures were lifted off a UK pet site that listed a white, chow puppy back in 2012! And I found another picture he sent from a German site that sells dogs. Although the suspicions were there, that’s when it really sunk in. I was about to be swindled. I searched for dog scams and that’s where I found a bunch of scammed people talking about similar sob stories. My wife died, my kid died, my aunt died and we need to get rid of the dog due to memories. You’d think families would keep the pet as a sweet remembrance, not a painful reminder. We called the Fargo PD, gave them all the info and they seemed appreciative, even though the address was probably fake too.

We quickly brought that to a screeching halt and were glad we caught it in flight. I was tempted to ask him why the pictures he sent were on other sites but felt I needed to cut all communication. We went on to next listing…a real one with verifiable info and now have a chow puppy girl arriving in July. Her name is Coconut and that’s her at the top.

Scams and scammers are all over the place and even seasoned folks can get caught up, especially when emotions and children are at play. Even so, I can tell you that doing a little rational research can save you from being a statistic.

And watch out for those summer scams.

ps

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.

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