2 free teacup Yorkies? Sorry, it’s a scam

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Yorkie lovers around the country (and even some in the Caribbean) were excited recently at the possibility of getting not one but TWO Yorkshire Terrier puppies at no cost – free to a good home.  Since these puppies can commonly sell for as much as $1500 each (or more), that’s an amazing offer…if it were genuine.  Unfortunately, it’s a scam, and I am sure some people have lost some money as a result.  (At the end of this post, please note a couple of ways YOU can help spread the word so that others don’t get scammed.)

Dickens

Dickens

Since we have a Yorkie, I am familiar with the breed and what they cost.  If you have been to our home, you have met Dickens.  He considers himself the boss around our house, and he is spoiled rotten by my daughter Brianne.

Last week, I spotted an unusual billboard on a high-traffic street right here in the Tampa Bay area:

Yorkie scam billboard

You can click on the image to see it full size, but here is what the text says:

2 Free Teacup Yorkies – 14 weeks male and female teacup yorkie babies for free to a good family, The puppies are AKC reg, raised in a beautiful environment, have full bloodline’s, they are current on their shots & vaccinations and their health condition is perfect.  Right now they need a good home.  For more information on the puppies please email: Edmonds50@live.com

When I first saw it, I suspected a scam, but this was odd – scammers don’t usually use billboard advertising, because it’s rather expensive.  A billboard such as this one costs around $1500 per month.

I sent an email asking about the puppies.  I specifically didn’t say anything about how “good” our home was; I just asked about why the puppies were being given away and how to proceed.  This is the response I got:

Thanks for responding to our Ad, really sorry for the late response to your email we arrived here in Scotland some days ago and have been busy although, It’s rather unforntuate that you didnt email as at the time we where still in the states.

Right now my family and i are in Scotland on missionary work with and we brought the yorkies along with us because we couldnt get a good home for them before we embarked on this trip.

The few days we have spent here so far has been very unconfortable and tiring most expercially on the yorkies due to the missionary works and other attivities, right now we are in deperate need of sending the puppies back to the states because we are always busy with the missionary works and it leaves us with less time to care for the yorkies.

What the yorkies need right now is a good home where they will be loved and cared for, So we are not selling them for money our only desire now is to ensure that they dont undergo stress or discomfort because yorkies are sensitive pet’s, they need people around them at all times.

I willing to assist you with paying half of the shipping cost of having shipped back to you in the states, my main concern is to ensure that they find a good home as soon as possible, we will both be paying for the shipping of the yorkies over to you. I will pay half of the shipping cost while you pay the remaining half, I will also include their certificates, vet report and all the papers concerning them when shipped to you.

Here is a little about the puppies, their names are MYLO and VANNA, they are 15 weeks old, their are potty trained, indoor trained, i feed them with IAMS dry pet foods and IAMS milk, they have learnt how to wewe outside the house, they are also familar with other dogs but have never being around cats, they play alot and have a perfect health condition.

I need to know the name of the airport you wish to pick the yorkies from when shipped to you or any airport closest to you to enable me get a quote of the shipping cost from the shipping company, once i find out the cost of shipping the yorkies over to you i email you back to let you know the cost so we can proceed further.

Once again am reassuring you that i still stand by my words concerning the shipping, I am willing to pay half of the total cost on behalf of my family while you pay the remaining half of the total cost so that things can work out smoothly.

Here is a number were I can be reached at any time + 44 702 4083 763, I will be waiting for your swift response ASAP.

Thanks a lot

Ed

So, no big surprises there.  The guy is just scamming people for “shipping” costs.  There are some interesting things about his email, however:

  • They claim to be in Scotland; a good choice, since that country is not typically known as a place where scams originate.  However, when I checked the IP address on his email, it told me the email actually came from Africa.  Probably Nigeria, where LOTS of scams originate.
  • They are missionaries – implying that they are good-hearted humanitarian people and can surely be trusted.
  • The puppies are currently uncomfortable and tired – to create sympathy in the heart of any dog lover, spurring them on to action.
  • There is no inquiry about our home or the environment – the immediate topic is the cost of shipping.

So I wrote back and said that I am very excited about getting the puppies, and that my closest airport is Tampa.  Just the response he was looking for.  He came back:

I just got back from the shipping company, I was able to find out the cost of having Mylo and Vanna shipped over to you. The manager in charge of international shipping gave me the cost of shipping Mylo and Vanna over to your Airport.

It costs $686 Usd to have Mylo and Vanna shipped to your airport, they will be carried on a first class plane and their flight duration will be 8 to 9 hours non stop flight.

I have divided the cost into two and am willing to pay $346 Usd as my own half on behalf of my family so all you need to pay now is $340 Usd only to complete the shipping cost so that Mylo and Vanna can be shipped to you immediately.

I was informed that once advance payment is brought forward they will begin the shipping schedule and once the remaining balance is paid they will ship out Vanna and Mylo to you immediately.

Right now I am ready to pay $346 as my own half to enable the shipping company begin the shipping schedule so that once you pay the remaining balance to the shipping company they will have the puppies shipped out to you immediately, I also need to know if i should go ahead and pay my half to the shipping company to enable them begin the shipping schedule.

Here is the info of the shipping company, Please email the Manager on airseascotland@hotmail.co.uk or call him to discuss how you will pay your own half to them because I was told that they will ship out the Mylo and Vanna 24hrs prior to the time they receive full payment for the shipping.

Air sea Scotland Ltd

Mr. Taylor Waffer / Shipping Manager

Tel Number: + 44 7024 050 072

Fax Number: + 44 7024 050 077

Eagle House, 159 Wright Street, Renfrew, Scotland

Email: airseascotland@hotmail.co.uk / Website: www.airseascotland.co.uk

I did some checking, and the “Air Sea Scotland Ltd” is a legitimate shipping company, and the physical address was correct.  Of course, as suspected, they don’t have any shipping manager there by the name of Taylor Waffer.  And they certainly don’t use Hotmail for their email.  When I inquired directly with the shipping company, I got this reply:

Good afternoon Scott – my name is Ian Lynch – I am the Chairman of Air Sea Scotland Limited.

I would refer to your recent mail to admin concerning a potential scam.

It would appear that we have been contacted on at least 2 occasions a copy of the e-mails are attached – I can confirm that I have contacted Hotmail and will be handing the file to our authorities later today or tomorrow.

I can confirm that we have never had a Mr. Taylor Waffer work for us and we have never had a an e-mail address airseascotland@hotmail.co.uk. The web site is ours.

I should know as I was one of the founders of Air Sea Scotland Limited in 1986.

Please find attached details of the 2 e-mails that we had already received. No action had been taken as the attached were removed as scam.

Your advice on what we do next would be appreciated.

Regards,

Ian Lynch

Chairman

So at least 2 other people had at least gone to the trouble to check out the story before blindly sending their money.  In fact, Mr. Lynch put me in touch with a girl who was inquiring with them about the shipping.  She had seen the ad in a local newspaper in St Kitts, an island in the Caribbean.  Here is the ad she responded to (click it to see full size):

In this ad, the scammer is using a different email address: edmondgibs@gmail.com.  He probably has many more.

Next step:  I sent an inquiry to the fake shipping manager, Taylor Waffer, to inquire about how to pay for my half of the shipping cost (somehow I was guessing that Western Union will be involved).  Here is what I got back:

Air Sea Scotland Ltd
Eagle House, 159 Wright St Renfrew PA4 8AN,
Scotland, United Kingdom

Good day and welcome to Air Sea Scotland Ltd, Where we offer 24-hours quality Services.

I am happy to read from you in respect of the shipping of the two teacup yorkies over to you by Mr. Edmond, The two yorkies will be flied on our first class cargo plane as arranged with Mr. Edmond and the cost of shipping of the two puppies will be $686 Plus taxes. Mr. Edmond has paid us the sum of $346 and said that you would contact us with the remaining balance to enable us ship out the puppies to you.
Please take note that you need to reconfirm your full delivery address and the name of the closest airport near you while sending us the details you used to send the payment balance.

The Yorkies will be shipped from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) United Kingdom –  Tampa International Airport (TPA) FL, USA, scheduled for a 8 to 9 hours flight. I shall forward you the important details you will use to pick the puppies up at your airport: Such as The Flight information, Airway Bill Number, tracking details and flight time. So that once they puppies arrive at the airport you find it easy to pick them up. Note that you must be at the airport at the arrival time of the flight.

The modes of payments can be via western union, credit cards are not accepted for security reasons so I think western union is preferable because it is easier and faster to send money.

As for the payments please see below the details you will use to send the money via western union, all you need do is go over to the nearest western union near you and send the money with the below info.

HERE IS THE PAYMENT INSTRUCTION AS FOLLOWS:
RECEIVERS NAME: Donald Mills
RECEIVERS ADDRESS: 1 Bedfont Road, Stanwell Staines Middlesex TW19 7NL
TEXT QUESTION: Good
TEXT ANSWER: Better
AMOUNT SENT: $340

Once the money is sent you will be given a reference number at that is usually called the MTCN number, please get back to me with the number as soon as possible.

I am getting the schedule of the shipments of the puppies ready so that once I receive the payments today I will call up Mr. Edmond so that they can have the puppies brought in this evening so that I can be able to ship out the yorkies tonight or first thing tomorrow morning I will let you know as soon as I have them shipped out and also provide you the details you will use to pick them up.

Kind Regards

Mr. Taylor Waffer
Air Sea Scotland Ltd
Tel Number: + 44 7024 050 072
Eagle House, 159 Wright Street, Renfrew, Scotland
Email: airseascotland@hotmail.co.uk

That’s funny – credit cards are not accepted “for security reasons”.  As you probably know, Western Union is like handing cash to someone walking by on a busy street – there is no chance of tracing or recovering it once it’s gone.  That’s why the scammers all use it.

The game plan is to string him along for as long as I can.  I am asking him for some more pictures, and to see if he can keep holding them while I try to come up with the money.  This is important because I don’t want to tip him off that his scam has been discovered.  As soon as he realizes that, he will most likely change email addresses or use a different phone number.  If you have encountered Edmond Gibson, please resist the temptation to send him a message with your opinion of his scam.

One more thing – I inquired with the company that owns the billboard (CBS Outdoor Advertising in Tampa).  They were not aware that this is a scam until I alerted them to it.  Once they knew about it, they went back and checked on the account and discovered that it was paid for with a credit card – a fraudulent one.  I am not sure exactly how a contract for a billboard goes through the whole purchase process with a stolen or fake credit card and still gets displayed, but I was told that the billboard advertisement would be taken down by today (Monday March 21).

Have you seen an ad for these 2 free teacup Yorkies? You can help in 2 ways:

1. Click the “Like” button to spread the word on Facebook so others don’t get scammed.

2. Use the comment section below to report the scammer’s names, email addresses, phone numbers and any other contact information.  This blog post gets a lot of traffic, and from now on whenever someone does a Google search to check out this scammer, they will find this information and avoid losing hundreds of dollars.

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Matthew
March 21st, 2011

Hi – sadly, this is a not uncommon scam in the UK, although the Billboard Advert is a fresh twist. I know two people who were almost taken in by this scam. It trades on genuine dog-lovers sympathies, but I think we can assume that the crooks behind it are NOT dog-lovers!

A spin through some of the legitimate pet websites shows how prevalent it is; http://www.terrificpets.com/scams/ for example, and this article in a national newspaper: http://tinyurl.com/6g2v2oj

As with almost everything, from washing machines to puppies, it pays to buy from a respectable, dealer – it’s your only real guarantee. And, guess what, if it seems to good to be true – that’s because it is!

Maurice Gilbert
March 21st, 2011

Aside from the scammers preying on many unsuspecting people, this whole
thing jumps out at me as a scam; the first thing I always notice is the repetition
of the same phrases, and the atrocious grammar. They obviously assume that
most people are undereducated and will not notice this!

And I think they must feel a need for “recognition” – almost all of them that I have
seen, use a title such as Mr., Dr., Mrs., etc., a practice that most of us in this
country rarely use!

Thanks for the info, Scott.

Laura B
March 21st, 2011

We’ve seen quite a few variations of this scam – sadly my company’s name and logo has been added on to many of these emails and we have to break the news to people who call about the “insurance” they bought that it is all a scam.

The scammers approach is getting more sophisticated and likely to rope in a new audience who have never seen the warnings about this. It’s an evolving industry I suppose. Shut one door and they open another.

Thank you for sharing.

Laura

Scott Johnson
March 22nd, 2011

Interesting update: the day after I published this blog post, I got this email from another scammer, “Nelly Kelly” – kellynelly66@yahoo.com:

Hello,
Thanks for the mail and interest in the little Babies, they are still there and are 11 weeks old and the are two females and one male. Yes but can still separate them by your wish.They are our darling angels. We love them so much but it`s unfortunate that we can`t even give them the love and affection we have in our hearts for them. we just relocated in a non pets apartment home inAnchorage Alaska and also i just found my new job that have been taking all of my time so i don’t have the chance to pay more attention and to give them my affection this is why i am looking for a lovely and caring home to hand them over for free adoption,,please
Do you have kids?
Do you have any experience with pups?
Are you a breeder or will you breed them in the future if i let you have them?
Will you send us updates about her from time to time and pictures?

I am just being concerned about the type of home they will be going to ,so that is why i am curious to know. We love them so much and we want to make sure they goes to a family that will show them the affection they deserves.they are health guaranteed,AKC and CKC registered and will come along with all her papers,puppy blanket,play toys, crate and food menu. so i am looking for a lovely home that will pay just for the transportation fee of the puppies ,$150 for one and$300 for both from Anchorage Alaska to your location at your doorstep…if you are okay by this then please let me know so that i will Educate you on how the transport and delivery company works.
Waiting to read from you asap
Kind regards

Ali
April 23rd, 2011

The Alaska e-mail is the EXACT one that i got as well! DO NOT FALL FOR THIS.

Lea Silva
April 29th, 2011

I didn’t get the website, but their email address. My message was almost the same as Scott Johnson.

Hello,
Thanks for your interest in my puppies,i got two puppies available
both male and female, they are called Jim and Princess and 12weeks old
now,But before we proceed, these puppies are well socialized with kids
and pets like cats,Very friendly with people,They love to play with
their toys,And
they have an outstanding temperament,These puppies represents the
highest standard of pure breed puppies.They are very Intelligent and
Compactly built,Registered Pedigree,Health Guarantee certificate of
Veterinary Inspection ,Micro-Chipped (in case ever lost or stolen)
Current on all vaccinations,Wormed ,puppies Packet (Toys, Vaccination
schedule and history, Crate Training info., Potty Training info.)
Already diaper Trained Travel Crate in case delivery is needed or in
case you intend to relocate.they will be coming with health
certificate,KC registration papers.This puppies are 12 weeks old.I
will feel much secure when you get back at me with the answer to these
questions that i have for you as my kids will love to know the kind of
home that our puppy or puppies will be coming into.
Are you a breeder?
Do you have kids?
Are use to puppies?
where are u located?
Are you sure that you are going to take care of any of my babies?
Gift me a Brief Description about your Environment?
Do you have a vet doctor?
i really do say sorry for all the questions but i just want to make
sure that the puppies are going to a loving homes
thanks and waiting
cheers

The cheers was a give away that he was from the UK where these scams are VERY common. After contacting him, this was his second message to me:

Hello
Sorry for all the Questions (i mean no offense) but just that i
really need a very loving home for this puppies
As you can see i am giving this puppies out for free, i
am giving out them for free since they were owned and taken care
of by my late wife whom i lost to a drunk driver couple of weeks ago.and
i have relocated to Minnesota due to the mobile nature of my
job as a company driver. right now i can’t take proper care of this
puppies which was a
sole responsibility of my late wife. they really do remind me of her
sad memories all the time i look at them and hurts deeply. So, my
greatest desire is to find someone who can properly take care of the
puppies and if you can, i can arrange for delivery if you cannot come
right up here for the pick. Delivery am sure will be moderate since we
spend just too little bringing the puppies up there (if you will be
taking just one of the puppies then you are to pay $220 for the delivery
or if at all you will be taking both then you are to pay $380 ) .
If this is OK by you, i will immediately need the following
details
full names………………..
home address…………….
city……………………..
postal code……………….
phone number……………
Occupation……………….
Nationality……………….
Nearest Airport………….
in order to change the ownership papers and get them registered for a
home delivery to your home(at your door step)
Be reminded that these puppies are for free and all you will have
to do is to pay only for the home delivery of these puppies to the
delivery agency which will deliver the them to your home.My prayer
is that you love and care for this puppy just as my wife did and i
will be always great full to you if you should.Do let me know if all
is fine … again i will like you to mail me as soon as you receive
the puppies ok so we can talk also on their feeding schedule
thanks for understanding _
And waiting
thanks

Kind of sad isn’t it. I even went as far as searching the obits, and what did I find – NOTHING. When I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with sending someone I don’t know money his next reply was:

HOW ABOUT IF I AM WILLING TO PAY HALF OF THE DELIVERY FEE AND YOU PAY HALF,THEN AS SOON AS THE PUPPIES ARRIVE YOUR HOME,YOU CAN THEN SEND BACK MY MONEY?

I then asked if they would do COD and his reply was:

no they do not accept C.O.D

After the second time of telling him that I am not comfortable with sending money to someone, I then told him that I could pay for the airline ticket where I’m at then he could put the Yorkies on the plane and I could just pick them up at the airport upon arrival. Funny, I haven’t heard back from him

Ari
May 12th, 2011

here’s another persons email who attempted to scam me: khloefamily@yahoo.com

claims they have two yorkies to “give away” you just pay shipping costs… same thing as all the other ones. so spread the word around!

khloefamily@yahoo.com = YORKIE SCAM!!!

irena
May 27th, 2011

here is a person who one to scammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm me be careful with she is a scam and take care

Karen
June 7th, 2011

My sister nearly fell for the exact same scam today, this time the mails were coming from Vanessa Miranda

Carolyn
June 14th, 2011

Edmond is now trying to buy radio time in Atlanta to advertise these puppies which seemed very strange. Fortunately we googled him and discovered the scam.