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Pet scammers monkeying around with world's busiest airport - what to watch out for

Watch out for pet scams
Scammers are monkeying around with would-be pet
owners, and Atlanta airport. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

Head’s up. Someone’s been seriously monkeying around with the feelings of pet lovers, and raising the ire of officials at the planet’s busiest airport.

Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) say there’s a scam afoot, one involving ads and unsolicited e-mails offering to sell and ship pets from overseas – puppies, birds, monkeys and such.

After would-be owners “purchase” the pet, the “seller” asks for more money. They do this by claiming the animal is sick, and being held at the airport until it gets needed vaccinations that will allow it to pass through customs.

That’s when the would-be owners call the Atlanta’s Department of Aviation, only to find out it’s all a fraud.

“Unfortunately, we receive a few calls per week from honest people who have been scammed by these crooks,” says ATL spokeswoman Katena Caravajales. That’s when she tells them, “The Department of Aviation does not have a facility that holds animals.” ATL is telling folks who purchase animals from overseas that they should ask for the specific 11-digit shipping number. Caravajales says that will “verify that the shipment has been booked on an international airline.” Do that before you ante up any money.

How can you tell if an ad to sell animals is legitimate or not? ATL says recent scammers have come from something called ‘Cameroon’ shipping. They’ve employed the e-mail addresses Atlanta_intl_airport@usa.com or pet_department001@mail2aaron.com. Neither of those is the address for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. The legitimate ATL address is: www.atlanta-airport.com.

In all instances, of course, you should be automatically suspicious of anyone like this who communicates solely via e-mail. Another signal things might not be on the up-and-up: pet sellers who accept wire payments or money orders only. ATL suggests using payment methods that afford some fraud protection, such as a credit card.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to this scam, contact your state’s attorney general, or the United States Secret Service. More info on cybercrime? Go to www.cybercrime.gov.

 

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