Scammers take advantage of puppies for sale, family says

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GREENWOOD, Ind. - A family selling a litter of puppies say multiple scammers tried to take advantage of their online posting.

Max Graham said his family decided the breed their Yorkshire terrier for the first time, and she happened to give birth to puppies just in time for Christmas.

Graham posted an ad on Craigslist to sell the puppies, thinking people would want to get them as Christmas presents.

He sold one puppy right away and soon heard from another buyer.

"I was like, know, this is great," Graham said.

The man told Graham what he thought was a believable story.

"His reasoning for buying the dog was for his nephew," Graham said. "He told me he was on a business trip and he was out in Texas."

The buyer said he would have his veterinarian help him with the puppy, and he would send Graham a check.

"When I opened it up, I was only supposed to keep $915 for this dog. He wrote me a check for almost $2,000," Graham said.

Graham said the man told him that once the check cleared, he should send the rest of the money to his vet within 24 hours. In a text, he told him, "I urge you to stay close to your bank."

By then, Graham had grown suspicious.

"(He was) very, very pushy," Graham said. "Unfortunately I was told by one bank it would be fine, but I double checked with them because I did not think that they were right and it was a good thing that I did."

The check turned out to be fake, and weeks later it dropped out of Graham's bank account. In the meantime, he heard from a second scammer who told almost the same story.

He turned both supposed buyers down and changed his Craigslist ad to say, "I will only deal with people on a face to face basis, and only at the police department parking lot."

Graham said he has not heard from scammers since posting the new ad, but he still has two puppies for sale and he doesn't want someone else to fall for a similar scam.

"I caught it with my own research and homework and I just hope it doesn’t happen to anybody else out there," Graham said. "This is the time of season that you can easily get scammed."

The Federal Trade Commission says fake check scams are on the rise. Here are some tips to keep in mind if someone tries to mail you a check:

  • Always be suspicious of a check that comes from someone you don't know personally
  • If you're selling something, don't take a check for more than the purchase price
  • If someone insists that you wire money, end the transaction immediately
  • Report any possible scams to the FTC, Indiana Attorney General, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service

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