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My wife and I posted an ad in the classified section of Stars and Stripes seeking a puppy and were contacted by a couple who had just the puppy we were looking for. They said they were doctors from Amsterdam who worked with Mercy Ships and they could no longer support the puppy due to their commitments. They were not concerned with money, only providing a good home for the puppy. They offered to ship it to us.

On the day we were to pick up the puppy, we received an e-mail purporting to come from Heathrow International Airport in London specifying that they had detained the puppy because of incomplete paperwork, and required this paperwork be faxed to them within three days. After e-mailing the "doctor" from Amsterdam, I was informed he was working on getting the paperwork, but that the breeder in Cameroon where he claimed he got the puppy while working with Mercy Ships needed 200 euros to process it and he had already spent a good deal of money in the shipping process.

The first red flag was that he insisted on shipping the dog when we offered to pick it up ourselves. The second was the e-mail from Heathrow, which, while purporting to be official, contained numerous grammatical errors. Third was the Cameroon origin of the dog. A quick Google search of his name in conjunction with Mercy Ships led us to a warning of Internet fraud. Another Google search of the government policy number given in the Heathrow e-mail led to numerous accounts of scams, from parrots and monkeys to other puppies.

No money was ever exchanged, although I received another e-mail asking for the paperwork fee. Inform your other readers to beware of such scam artists. A little fact-checking pays off.

Second Lt. Michel-Paul MauraisSchweinfurt, Germany


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