(CBS) Once again, the old adage is correct: If it seems too good to be
true, it probably is.

In recent weeks, an e-mail plea has blanketed the Internet, similar to
a classified advertisement that has appeared in newspapers all over
the country, offering high-end pedigreed puppies for bargain
basement prices — $200 for a Yorkshire Terrier that would normally
sell for up to 10 times the price.

The e-mail pleas and classifieds say that the author is a dog breeder
who is on a religious mission in Africa and needs to unload the
puppies — to good homes — as soon as possible. Those interested
are told to send their money (to cover shipping and handling) to an
address in Nigeria and the dogs would arrive in several weeks.

Not surprisingly, the puppies never arrive.

Joy Schick was hoping to add a Yorkie to her family when she
spotted a classified ad in her local Florida paper. "I found one for
$450, which almost sounded too good to be true," she told The Early
Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen.

She sent an email, and got an immediate response from the owner,
who was in Africa, asking Joy to send money to pay for shipping the
dog to the U.S. "But he wanted me to wire the money and I delayed
doing it before I checked out a few more things and then I decided it
was a hoax."

She eventually did get her puppy, Fred, but she purchased the dog
from a local breeder. "To take advantage of people who are looking
for someone to love — it's just not right," Schick said.

Koeppen herself made contact with the scammers: "When I got online
requesting information about puppies, it didn't take long for me to
get several e-mail responses — all of them from people with puppies
who needed good homes — all of them happened to be on a mission
in Africa," she reported.

Reputable breeders like Christopher Vicari say the Internet scams
have been going on for a while. Vicari, who breeds sweet-faced,
snowy white Maltese, says the scammers are so bold, they actually
swipe photos of his dogs from his Web site and use them as part of
their sales pitch: "This is common," he said. (Vicari has posted some
general consumer guidelines for Maltese breeders on his Web site.)

According to Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Better
Business Bureau, "The scammers who do reach out in this way are
out for one thing and it's not to give you a puppy. There never were
any puppies there never will be any puppies because the scammer
will walk away with one thing — your money."

The American Kennel Club, which represents reputable breeders all
over the country, and the BBB have issued a warning about the scam.

Among the guidelines they suggest potential puppy parents should

Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned about getting paid.

Don't be fooled by a slick Web site.

Take your time and beware of breeders who claim to have multiple
breeds ready to ship immediately.

Report a scam to your local authorities as well as their local Better
Business Bureau (www.bbb.org). Questions can also be directed to
AKC Customer Service (919-233-9767). To read the complete warning
from the AKC and the BBB, click here.

Koeppen also had some common sense suggestions on how not to
get scammed:

Don't wire money.

If at all possible, meet the breeder before you buy the dog.

Take your time. Don't be pressured into purchasing a puppy by slick

Beware Of Internet Puppy Scam

Cut-Rate Pedigreed Pups Are Too Good To Be True
June 12, 2007 10:07am