Dishonesty From The Start Is a Poor Sales Practice

Last year I spent a week in Virginia for work. I ended up being able to get an ocean front suite in Virginia Beach within what I could be reimbursed for, so I brought the family with me. While we were there, we of course got invited to a timeshare presentation. We figured we'd eat the free breakfast, take the tour, listen to the pitch, then fight like heck to get out of there.

Yes, I am uncomfortable with taking free breakfasts and other gifts when I have no intention of buying. We like VA Beach, so we were intersested in what they had to say although we figured it would be priced out of reality for us. Somehow, it wasn't. They had a unit within a reasonable price, and it includes a deed, so my wife was interested and we bought in.

We're currently on our first exchange to Williamsburg, VA. The resort we're staying at wants us to have a free meal, then take a tour of a model and then take a survey. As usual, they claim there will be no pressure. I'm not sure. I read in some reviews of this resort that even if you already own a unit somewhere else, they will try very hard to get us to switch to a unit here. That won't happen. At least as we understand things, a VA Beach unit gives us some power in exchanges. We also like VA Beach, so we're not giving that up.

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Quote From 1984

I recently finished reading George Orwell’s “1984.” I’ve been hearing about the book for as much of my life as I can remember. I was 10 in 1984, and I believe I had heard of the book at that point. Growing up in an Air Force family during the later part of the Cold War, especially when you lived close enough to the Eastern Block to realize you would be dead by the time the nuclear warning could be put out or the air raid sirens activated, you get to learn a little about communism and the Soviet system. I was walking to school on morning in 1983 when the Ramstein headquarters was blown up by a truck full of explosives driven onto base by terrorists. I have no idea how terrorists got a truck full of explosives as the gate guards seemed pretty sure that an Air Force noncom and his children couldn’t get on base without a thorough check. In any case, they did, and drove it right up to the steps. We lived in Vogelveh Military Housing, about a 15 minute drive from Ramstein Air Base, but I remember the ground shaking and seeing a cloud coming up over the horizon. I wasn’t in any danger. Of course, being in the days before cell phones my mom was in a panic all day until my dad could get in touch with her to let her know that he was all right.

That isn’t the main point behind this post. Orwell seemed to be very insightful into how the communist system works. I’ve heard that he was a socialist and rather than writing as a warning against communism, his books were written as sort of praise toward it. I plan to follow that up at some point, but I haven’t yet.

1984 was a good read, and I highlighted a few passages that seemed insightful to either the communist system or even into how people think today. I wrote a post last year about the lottery. I’ll admit, I have little use for the lottery. I don’t play it. I see it as a voluntary tax on people who have no ambition and little ability to process math. I don’t play it myself, and though my wife doesn’t agree with me, she has yielded to my request to find other ways to waste our money rather than buy lottery tickets. I found a quote in 1984 that seems to back up what I’ve thought all along:”

The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the running of the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being non-existent persons. In the absence of any real intercommunication between one part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange.

The only part of that section that may not apply is the last, yet how much real intercommunication would have to take place in the matter of the lottery?

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Sundance Vacations- Is There Really Value In Buying 30 Vacations Wholesale?

On Friday night my wife got an interesting call. Last month we took our kids to the Thomas and Friends Day at the Toy Train Emporium. They had a drawing for a grand prize of tickets to the Thomas Show at the Tweeter Center. I rarely if ever enter drawings for money anymore, but I do occasionally enter for things like that. We filled out cards for our kids, partly because the cards enrolled them in the Birthday Club that the store offered. Just after we got home, I got a call from the store saying that the card I filled out for Joshua won and we had 4 tickets to the show plus a special Meet and Greet with Sir Topham Hat. That sounded good. I ended up not being able to go because I had class that day but my wife took her sister along. While there, she filled out a card for another drawing (my wife is more likely to fill these things out than I am; I’ve gotten on too many junk marketing lists that way) and that drawing won. She was told on her call last night that she won a free vacation to Orlando or Las Vegas. We just had to come pick up the tickets and pay the taxes on them. The company, Sundance Vacations, from research I did is headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, PA and has six more offices in the PA-NJ area. The office in King of Prussia, PA is closest to us. They had an appointment for Friday night but we originally took one for 11 AM Saturday morning because we were supposed to have company over for dinner.

I thought it had to be a scam, or a time share presentation, which I partially consider to be a scam anyway. There isn’t very much in this world that you get for nothing, especially something like a vacation. These things cost money, and companies don’t just go giving them away because you were nice enough to fill out a card with your name, phone number, address, annual income, or whatever else they required. I really didn’t want to have to go Saturday, because I needed to go to work to make up for taking off on Monday to finish a flooring project that went horribly wrong last weekend. Also, due to other events, I needed time on Saturday to finish my weekly assignment for my current class at the University of Phoenix, and being at the office on Saturday provides me with a quiet environment to do that, once I get through my work that I went in to do, of course. When our dinner guests didn’t show up, my wife asked me to call them. It turns out that they were under the impression that she was going to call them during the week to confirm, and she didn’t. I told her to call the place that claimed we won a vacation and see if the 8 PM appointment was still open. After all, what’s a 40 mile drive to King of Prussia on Philadelphia’s poorly designed, patchworked, scenic and deadly Schukyll Expressway at the end of Philadelphia’s Friday night rush hour anyway? My sister in law, who lives with us, was willing to watch the kids for the evening, so we set out. Actually, if they hadn’t expressly forbidden children, I would have brought them. Bored and cranky children make an excellent excuse for leaving an uncomfortable situation. Fortunately, all of the traffic jams were in the eastbound lanes, and we made it in time for our 8:15 PM appointment. (I actually prefer military or 24 hour time, but I’m doing AM and PM for any readers who don’t know what I mean when I say we arrived at 2015.) 

I wish I’d had time to do an Internet search before we left, but the search I did while conducting research for this entry turned up little useful information. We arrived just about on time for our appointment. The office was in a corporate park. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I figured there would be a travel agency layout and decor to the office. There wasn’t. We walked into a lobby that seemed comfortable enough, The receptionist greeted us and gave us a form to fill out. The form, in addition to the basic questions about name, address, occupation, income, etc. also asked questions about where we vacation, who we go with, where we go, what we like to do, and the ever ominous question about whether we have been forced to sit through been to a time share presentation. That, to me, was a dead giveaway what we were being pulled into but we drove 40 miles so we figured we’d see what they had to offer. 

The woman assigned to our appointment came out to get us and walked us down a long hallway plastered from ceiling to floor on both sides with Polaroid pictures of people holding beach balls and smiling. She said it was their "Wall of Success" or something and she seemed highly confident that our picture would be on that wall shortly. I wasn’t so sure, but I kept that to myself. She took us back to a large room with inflatable beach balls all over the place and many tables with presentation folders on them. The outside of the room was lined with offices. It was just like cubeville but without the cubicles. The beach balls were a nice touch, and I should have taken some with me. They might liven up cubeville where I work. 

When we sat down at the table she explained what we already knew, to get our free vacation we just had to give her 20 minutes. Then she took the presentation folder and launched into the presentation. I was once in a multi-level marketing organization, and although I never did very well, I was highly trained in the "sales and marketing plan", which I was once able to do on a bar napkin. I was pretty good at it, actually. I recognize aspects of that method in situations like this one, and to be honest it really destroys any sense of legitimacy for me. She went through the pages in the presentation folder, and she also had a printed page with numbers and slogans on it that she kept circling and writing on, just like the sales and marketing plan form I once used. 

Here is the gist of the presentation for any who are interested. It actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea, and I’ll explain our thinking and what we did in a little bit. OK, you probably take vacations once in a while. What this place, Sundance Vacations does, is buy vacations wholesale. They don’t advertise, and they pass the savings along to their members (that’s the claim). You buy all of your vacations at once, sort of like the difference between, say, paying $3 a beer at a bar versus buying a case for $14.99. (They used soda in their presentation). You get 8 days of vacation a year in a nice vacation condo in locations all over the world, from the Jersey Shore (great place, really) to Las Vegas to the Caribbean. You make a call to them and pay $99 for them to book your vacation. As best as we were able to reconstruct the details in the car on our way home, it sounded like you had to pay airfare but they got you the best rate possible. You also had to pay for the condo, but it was much cheaper than if you went to the destination retail. They had a peak season cap. Also, somehow the plan was completely protected against inflation. If you buy now, in 20 years you’ll still pay the same price. I should have asked how they did that and what would happen if the economy tanked so badly that it would take $48 to get one Euro, but I didn’t. I honestly didn’t expect her to have an answer to that worst case scenario. This plan, which is as best I recall because they didn’t exactly offer to let us take any materials home, cost *only* $15,000. You just have to put down $2400 and finance the rest for several years at 16 3/4% interest. I laughed at that. Seriously, if I really wanted to finance $15,000 I can get a much better interest rate than that. 

Of course, that wasn’t all. For that day only, they had a really special package with 5 more vacations at a lower cost plus a few bonuses for $12,000. That required putting down less money. We told her it would be nice if we could have time to think about it. I’ve made some really stupid decisions over the years because companies like this force you to make a decision on the spot, so by this point in my life I refuse to do it. To my thinking, instant decision = scam. If they’re really afraid of losing a sale because they gave me time to think about it, and of course do some research on the Internet, then it cannot be legitimate and I will walk away. Of course, I’m not equating illegitimate with illegal. I’m sure this is perfectly legal, but I don’t consider it a legitimate place to put my money if I have to decide right now. Even in the multi-level marketing system I did, we would send people home with materials and tapes (which really told them nothing) and give them 48 hours to think about what they heard.

By this point, the woman had finished her presentation and we politely declined, but of course they can’t just let you walk away, so the heavy artillery or "bad cop" is brought in. She said she had to get her manager just to make sure that she did a good job and answered all of our questions. Now, of course the first person you deal with will be very pleasant, but there is a second tier of salesmanship. She brought back a man in a pin-stripe suit who seemed very authoritative and imposing. When I was younger, I might have folded under his pressure, but at the ripe age of 33 I’ve seen enough that I wasn’t intimidated by his act, nor was I impressed. He went through the formalities of asking how our presenter did, and of course we said she did fine. Then he asked if they could give us another package that would be more to our liking, but of course, this package was only good for today. We said we would probably be interested but of course would like to have some time to talk it over and think about it. We also explained that we are about to undertake a massive home renovation project and we’ve barely even started getting the details together, so we really need to keep our budget clear and our savings up. We remained pleasant. Finally, the man stood up and said "I’m sorry we couldn’t help you", like he was disappointed in us. It was at that point that I realized there was no way we would consider any offer from them, because somehow he made the deal seem much more personal in a not so nice way with that statement and tone of voice. I actually think it’s the other way around; we’re sorry we couldn’t help them. 

Finally, we were ushered into another office to pick up our free vacation. The woman in there was much less pleasant than the receptionist or our presenter. She seemed cold. She took out another plan page and drew out a package that was still less and offered it to us. Of course, like all of the others, this was good only for today (Friday, actually). 

I’d like to call at this point what we referred to in the Navy as a Training Time Out. I can’t help but wonder, and my wit wasn’t working fast enough Friday night to think of this until we were in the car on the way home, what their reaction would have been if I’d asked them "We originally had an appointment for tomorrow, but changed to tonight. What ‘1 day only’ offers would you have given us tomorrow? What ‘1 day only’ offers did you give to people yesterday? What’s on tap for Monday?" I actually love these high pressure sales tactics with their "1 day only" special offers. Think about this in the grand scheme of things. In all of history, there is only one day on the entire timeline during which you could possibly expect to get a special deal on a wholesale vacation package from Sundance Vacations, which has been in business since 1992 (1996 according to the BBB), has seven offices, and the office in King of Prussia seems equipped to handle many presentations at once. Never mind that you’re about to sell one house and build on another, no, you have to get that vacation package today or you’ll be staying at a Motel 6 for the rest of your life and your children will go on Oprah and tell the world what a horrible parent you were for missing that one day in time that could have changed all of your lives for the better! You family will be disgraced for generations to come! Think about it, anyway. Secure from Training Time Out (that means return to our regularly scheduled blog entry). 

We politely told the woman that again, we would consider the deal if they would only give us time to think and talk about it. Sadly, this final offer was only good for Friday night. It will never be offered to anybody again, apparently. I still wonder what they would have told us had we kept our original 11 AM appointment Saturday morning. We were asked to sign a paper saying that we received the vacation. We were then ushered out of the building to our car. When we got there at 2015 (8:15 PM) we were the only people in the lobby. When we left at 2038 (8:38 PM), the lobby was utterly packed. I asked my wife how many of those people would be pressured into that deal and regret it later. 

On the way home we talked about it, and we both believe that we did the right thing. Can you really plan out your next 30 years of vacations? What happens if one of you gets sick, or something happens to a family member? What if I lost my job, or the economy tanked, or something? What if I actually managed to succeed as an independent IT consultant and didn’t have time for a vacation? Heck, we don’t really take vacations anyway. I do manage to eat up several weeks of vacation a year, but most of that is for home improvement or taking care of the kids when my wife is sick or when I’m waiting for Window Wizards to show up for a service call. I can’t remember the last time I actually used my vacation balance to take a vacation. 

Now that I’ve laid out the story as best as I recall, I’ll give you some tips on how to survive a high pressure sales environment. 

Be Pleasant and polite

You have nothing to gain by growing impatient. Keep yourself calm and be polite. In these situations, I would love to grab these people by the collar and tell them "It’s because of people like you that I have to spend an hour every year sitting through ethics training". That would get me nowhere, and I’d probably have yet another yearly training session to sit through. Be kind. 

A Better Business Bureau Award Doesn’t Mean No Scam

During the presentation, our presenter made a big deal out of how many awards Sundance Vacations has from the BBB. To be honest, a BBB rating doesn’t mean a good value to you, the consumer. Don’t forget, the BBB represents Businesses, not consumers. They do attempt to enforce certain ethical standards, but businesses can maintain those ethical standards while providing no real value to their intended customers. Check out Sundance Vacation’s page on the Rip-off Report, a service of the Bad Business Bureau. According to Wikipedia, Sundance Vacations has BBB complaints against all of it’s offices. While I was still in the Navy, I went through a phase where I was getting constant calls claiming I had won sweepstakes and lotteries all over the world. Of course, I woudh have had to pay to get the funds released. Most of the phone calls came from businesses claiming to have high ratings and many awards from the BBB. Once again, a BBB rating and awards really don’t mean that you won’t get ripped off. Actually, I have stopped trusting any business which works like Sundance Vacations and makes a big deal out of their BBB affiliation. I consider it one thing to stop into a mom and pop restaurant to get a cheese steak and see a BBB plaque on the wall and another thing entirely to sit through a sales pitch for a product that I wasn’t even looking for that tries to use a BBB award to gain my confidence.

You are under no obligation

No matter how you find yourself brought into these situations, you have no obligation to anybody but yourself and your family and your existing creditors. Even if you win something, or they feed you, they still cannot legally obligate you to buy into their program. They’ll try to tell you "It’s only $90 a month", but I know we’ve had quite a few months in our lives where $90 in the budget would have made a huge difference. My wife and I try to keep our outgoing cash flow to a minimum, barring of course the mortgage payment and utilities and an occasional credit card. When we do finance things, we try to buy on a "12 months no interest" deal, which Lowe’s runs several times a year. We bought a stove and refrigerator one year and paid them off over the next 12 months with no interest. We bought our Sleep Number bed on a 16 month no interest deal and paid it off with our tax refund. When we absolutely must finance a car, we spend time researching our needs and we find a used car that meets those needs that we can finance for $200 a month or less. Financing can be a useful tool, but don’t turn it into a slave driver for yourself and your family no matter how good the deal sounds at the moment. 

Why can’t you think about it or take some literature home?

I immediately grow suspicious when I have to make a decision on the spot involving my budget and financial future. It took me a long time to learn that my wife hates it when I try to get her to tell me her opinion in front of a salesperson, and that’s gotten us in trouble in the past. My wife would rather let me browbeat her into agreement then be mad at me for the next few weeks than publicly discuss this kind of deal in front of a salesperson. I’ve learned that in order for us to make a good decision, we have to get away and do it in private. This also allows us to play our own game of "good cop, bad cop" for the salespeople. When they look at me and say "Can’t you come up with $2400 tonight?" I say "I don’t know. My wife handles the budget. All I know is when I stick my Check Card in the gas pump, gas comes out." 

All that aside, ask yourself what they could be so afraid of if they give you the chance to walk away and think about their program. I don’t know much about the psychology of sales tactics, but I do know that they lay heavy on the emotions and keep away from the rationalizations. When I used to present that sales and marketing plan, I was trained to focus on emotions. I had to get people to think that their lives were incredibly boring and routine and I what I was offering was wealth and excitement and adventure. The people who come up with these sales tactics probably know that most men are likely to make a rash decision and most women aren’t comfortable standing up and saying "What do you think you’re doing? We can’t afford this!" in front of a salesperson. If they’re so afraid to let you go home and think about it and research it, what is it that they’re worried about you’ll find? 

Keep it in perspective

Seriously, is this really that life altering decision that you have to make on the spot or your kids will hate you? Really, if you don’t buy this vacation package tonight, because you’ll never, ever see it again, what is the impact on your life? Does it really matter? Will you kick yourself in the butt later if you don’t do it? Most people I know who have bought into these things come to regret them later anyway. When my wife had preeclampsia and the doctors needed a decision that moment to perform a C-section, that is what I consider a life altering decision that must be done on the spot with lives hanging in the balance and the possibility of lasting ramifications for all of us. On the last day of my mom’s life, when the hospice nurse wanted to transport her to a respite care facility even though there was a high probability she wouldn’t survive the trip, that was a life altering decision which had to be made on the spot and may have been regretted for the rest of our lives. This is only a vacation package, and it really won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Trust me, another company, if not the same one, will call you later. Programs like this will always be around. 

And of course, for all I know, it’s a perfectly legitimate program and our lives could have been greatly enhanced by participating in it. Too bad they wouldn’t let us think about it overnight. 

Note: I originally wrote this entry with the wrong name. Somehow I remembered this place as Paradise Vacations, when in fact it is Sundance Vacations. 

Technorati tags: vacation, wholesale vacation, finances, family finances, scams, high pressure sales tactics, Sundance Vacations

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Online Scams

A month or two ago, I tried to put my dog up for adoption. I decided to use Petfinder, because it worked so well last year when we decided to get rid of my other dog and one of my cats. It is a great service and I do recommend it. I ultimately pulled my ad down, however, because I was getting way too many scams and nobody really seemed interested in my dog. If anybody actually is interested, he’s a 6 year old American Eskimo, about 30 pounds, neutered, and UKC registered. He has been to obedience school. We decided to keep him for the time being. He’s a great dog, but since we had children, animals are getting to be a hassle.

I don’t have the wording of my original ad, but I laid out the details, the price, my contact information, and the fact that I would only deal with local buyers. Over Memorial Day weekend, I tried to sell some bedroom furniture on Craig’s List, and I got all kinds of international scams. I’m no expert on import/export, but until I understand what profit there could be in paying an international shipping service to pick up a $150 waterbed, I will not deal with those people.

I saved the emails I got in reference to my dog in an seperate folder in Microsoft Outlook. I decided to post some of the more amusing ones here in case somebody is wondering what one of these scams looks like.

The first email that I got seemed legitimate and simply asked if I still had my dog. I replied that I did and never heard from the person again. Such is life trying to sell things online. The second email I got follows:

hello, how are you doing and your pet? Am **** by name and i will love to give your pet a loving home. i reside in utah with my husband and children and we will love to take your pet as an indoor family pet and we love pet so much than any other thing on earth ,so please let me know the last asking price and i will love to view the pics if available. payment will be made before shippment and my shipping company will handle the shipping , dont be bored about the shipping of this pet cos this company deals with transporting live pets across the coast which i have been a witness of. more so my mode of payment will be in an american cashiers check or money order check which will include the cost of the pet along with the shipping fees, you can get a hold of this shipping company for more information asper the shipping at skymit_shipping_agency001@yahoo.com and they made it known to me that the pet will be pickup right in your door step with out you streesing your self and a vet check will be carried out on the pickup day by the shipers vet doctor. i look forward to hear from you in giving this pet a loving home , i await your response

I have edited the name out just on the off chance that this could have been legitimate. I completely understand that some Americans just cannot handle written English and I can live with that. However, I have NEVER in my life seen one American offer to pay another American in "American cashiers check". The shipping agency also is listed with a Yahoo address. I believe that the days have passed when a legit business would use a free email address. Shipping live animals probably involves extensive certifications anyway. I also specified the adoption fee in the ad, and that I would only deal with local buyers. Therefore, this is either a scam at worst or the person cannot read at best. However, looking at the poorly translated English ("dont be bored with the shipping of the pet"), I assume this is somebody somewhere else trying to scam me. I did not reply.

The next offer for adoption is as follows:

Dearest.

With sound of good health. I would like to re-home your lovely pet to become part of my loving and caring family. I want to make your pet a friend and a companion. I’m us citizen. I live at delray beach FL, but presently in ontario canada to accept a job offer with the american christian missionary as a Clergyman. I’m happily married with a kid and 2 house maids. I lost my most adorable pet some couple of days ago due to old age. I can assure you a 100% loving forever home for your pet. Pls, briefly tell me these: adoption fees,mode of feeding, present health condition, breed, and pic if available.

I have a viable and reliable pet carrier that will come to visit you face to face for the pick-up. I wait to hear back from you so that i can inform a Church member to issue out the payment. But for the payment, you have to forward your name,address and your phone number so that a certified money order/CK will be issue on your behalf which’ll cover the adoption fees + $50 as reward offer for the up bringing of the pet + the shipping fees.

Reply swiftly. I’ll forward the pictures of me, my house and my famly so that you can rest assure that your pet is coming to a loving family.

We cares for your pet. **** & ****

 

***Dedicated for your pet***

Animals are great to see

Fun to have as pets

Some I know I’d rather have

Than people that I’ve met

They never ask you questions

They rarely disagree

But always seem to know just when

To be there when need be

will make a bit of noise

To ask if we’re ok

It’s just their way of letting us know

That things will work some way

It’s like they’re trying to say to us

They know just how we feel

And only try to help us through

Our bothersome ordeal

Dogs will come wag their tail

Lift you up a paw

Looking at you with helpful eyes

Understanding what they saw

Cats will sit and study you

Before they come around

Trying to figure out when is best

To lift you when you’re down

Birds are quiet when you’re mad

Noisy when you’re not

They’ll only make a bit of noise

When the blues is all you’ve got

Animals know more than we think

They all have their moods too

Have you ever noticed when

They spend more time near you

Sometimes we take them all for granted

As well as some people too

Do you ever ask yourself

If you’d be there for you

Pets become a part of our hearts-

we adopt them as family right from the start.

We cast all our love on their kind, gentle souls,but, like you and I they too, grow old.

When we grow tired and weary, God gave us a choice- we have doctor’s and care, but our pets have no voice.

***Loving heart **** & ****

                                                                                             

Again, name has been edited just in case this was legit. This one came with a prose dedicated to "my pet". Still, even if this was legit, the adoption fee was clearly marked in the ad, as well as my insistance of a local adopter only. Scammers typically will request however they translate "latest price and fees" because they pretty much spam a lot of ads and hope for a hit.

This next one just about made me want to knock my head against the wall. I believe this is the one that made me rewrite my ad to say "I love my dog, and I will only deal with somebody that I can meet face to face".

Hello,
i am mr micoud  a vetenarinarian  doctor and the director of
pethouse hospital i live at ,31 Natal Road,Streatham,London,England,SW16
6JA, my phone number is +447024032112 i am highly interested in
your pet coz i want  to take it to my house to live with my
family and I will like you to let
me know the condition of the pet.I’ll be paying with money order
or cashier cheque  which will be issue out by my  client which will
be coming to your location for the pick up of the pet.I’ll
instruct him  to issue $3800 in your name .Immidiately you
receive this cheque , i want you to take it to your bank, cash it
immidiately and deduct your selling price and also deduct extra
$200 for your running around and you’ll send the excess to my
client for the shipment of the pet alongside  some  other (pet ) i
placed in order in care of him.he will also use the funds you’ll
send to him to settle some customs problem and for ticket fee in
other to get to your location for the pick up of the pets
immidiately you send the excess funds to him.
                                                                        
                
                           
                                       
                                                 
The excess
funds will be
send to the
client through
westernunion for him to come to your place  for the pick up 24hours
after receiving the payment from you without giving you any
stress.So, i do hope i can have trust about the excess funds which
is meant for my client.I will like you to get back to me with the
price of the pet  and send the following information for the
process of the payment.
NAME……..
ADDRESS…………
CITY……
STATE….
ZIP CODE……..
PHONE # BOTH HOME AND CELL…..
I await your this info so that I can fax it down to my client that
will send u the payment.
THANKS

I didn’t even bother to edit the name from this one. I also shouldn’t have to bother pointing out why I believe this one to be nothing more than a scam. OK, I’m trying to put my dog’s best foot forward, but seriously, he answers to the name "No, bad dog". You think he’s worth $3800? This person also starts out by saying he wants to take my pet to live with him, then speaks of his client. Keep the story straight, OK? Again, all the info was clearly posted in my ad, including my number. One other point: scammers will typically offer to send you far more than the item is worth and ask you to cash the payment and send some back.

The next one is short and sweet and still smells of a scam. In the "to" block is another address than mine. It is possible that this one went to quite a few ads on Petfinder.

HELLO SELLER,
I AM MRS ****, I WILL LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT MY FAMILY IS REALY INTRESTED IN MAKING YOUR PET PART OF OUR FAMILY…PLEASE IT WILL BE OF GREAT JOY IF YOU CAN LET US HAVE IT COS WE REALY NEED IT AMONG OURS SINCE WE LOST OUR PET…
SO I WILL NEED YOU TO SEND TO ME IT’S RECENT PICTURE,WHY YOU WANT TO SELL IT AND YOU LAST ASKING PRICE…… THEN AS SOON AS YOU SEND ALL THIS WE CAN MOVE FAST TO PAYMENT. BECOUSE I WILL COMING OVER TO YOUR PLACE TO PAY AND PICK THE PET UP MY SELF…
THANKS….
THE **** FAMILY

  I edited the name, however. I did not see a reason to take this one seriously.

This final one was my last straw:

Hello Dear Sir / Madam,

Good to meet you, My name is ****.I located at Arlington,Texas. I saw your profile online that you are will rehome your pet to your posted PET/DOGS for adoption and also immediately, I got so fascinated about having the item. I am an honest, caring Woman with the utmost fear of God. Having the item is like owning a fortune and the thought of me makes my vein leap for joy because i really Love PET.I have a very big compound and a wide playing groung where the pets can also play.I have 3 kids and they really loves pet.I will really take goodcare of her.

I will like you to foward to me the LAST COST PRICE so as i can make payment sent to you as soon as possible.I will have my Pet Transporter Company comes for the Pick-Up as soon as the Payment is Cleared from the Bank.Will email you the Pet Transporter Companies Email address when you got the payment pet.

Get back to me with the Adoption fee charges.I will be responsible for the pick-up my my personal pet transporting company who will come for the pick-up of the pet at your destination after you might have gotten the payment for the adoption charges cashed.

I will prefer you email me back as soon as possible with your details to make the payment via A Certified US MONEY ORDER or a CERTIFIED US CHECK .

Email me back with this Below Information:

NAME ON CHECK:
ADDRESS:
CITY:
STATE:
ZIP-CODE:
COUNTRY:
PHONE NUMBER :

Have a splendid day.

Regards

Again, name edited out. This one seriously reeks of a scammer’s form letter. "Having the item is like owning a fortune and the thought of me makes my vein leap for joy because i really Love PET." I don’t even want to know what that means. My dog is not "the item". After this one, I pulled the ad down and told my wife that if she wants my dog in another home, she can post the ad and deal with the nutcases herself. I’m through with it.

Not all of my responses were this horrible. I did have an email exchange with one person about an American Eskimo adoption agency. However, I had no serious inquiries and I decided to keep my dog.

By the way, if you’re interested in hearing about how one person scored a victory over a scammer, check this out.

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FW: CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE WON CONTACT US (Lottery Scam Email)

Below is an email that my wife received regarding her apparently winning 3 million dollars in the “Universal Lottery”. We don’t know of any such thing, nor has she registered. I resist letting her play the New Jersey State Lottery for a few reasons, and she has not played any lotteries outside.

This is most likely a scam. How do I know? Well, for one thing, lotteries are normally run by a state or nation and require funding; hence the education budget is normally raided when a lottery is established. Lotteries really aren’t run privately and they don’t just go looking for random email addresses to dispense the funds to.

Another clue to the possibility of this being a scam is that this email is dated for today, 22 December 2005, yet it requires a response by 19 December 2005. Hmmmmm, oversight, anyone?

Finally, I can tell it’s a scam because I found it listed here: http://www.fraudwatchinternational.com/internet/lottery_operatives.shtml .

I don’t know how many people will fall for this scam. Most likely, they are after bank account numbers. Sadly, I’m afraid that many will fall for it. Scams like these prey on people who are hurting, broke, and desperate. I’ve fallen for scams while in similar straights. When I was in the Navy, I didn’t have a lot of money. I got something in the mail for the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes, and since I needed money I sent off for it. Next thing you know, I’m getting junk mail and telemarketing calls left and right about all this money I supposedly won, I just had a pay a fee of anywhere from $5 to $400 to get it released. I actually did fall for the first couple of these.

Please, no matter how financially desperate you are, don’t fall for something like this. Often we get into bad straights through no fault of our own, yet sometimes it is our fault. The obvious solution is to never live above our means. If you have, it will take time and patience to get out, but you can get out. There are ways. Anyway, here is the scam email:

— Universal Lotto Winners universallottowinners06@hotmail.co.uk wrote:

From Universal Lotto Winners Thu Dec 22 05:22:51 2005

X-Apparently-To: ***********@yahoo.com via 68.142.200.153;
Thu, 22 Dec 2005 05:33:35 -0800 X-Originating-IP: [65.54.185.11]
Return-Path: universallottowinners06@hotmail.co.uk
Authentication-Results: mta241.mail.mud.yahoo.com
from=hotmail.co.uk; domainkeys=neutral (no sig)
Received: from 65.54.185.11 (EHLO hotmail.com) (65.54.185.11)
by mta241.mail.mud.yahoo.com with SMTP;
Thu, 22 Dec 2005 05:33:27 -0800
Received: from mail pickup service by hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
Thu, 22 Dec 2005 05:22:51 -0800
Message-ID: BAY15-162356266B16A348F5351EF300@phx.gbl
Received: from 196.207.13.58 by by15fd.bay15.hotmail.msn.com with HTTP;
Thu, 22 Dec 2005 13:22:51 GMT
X-Originating-IP: [196.207.13.58]
X-Originating-Email: [universallottowinners06@hotmail.co.uk]
X-Sender: universallottowinners06@hotmail.co.uk
Reply-to: universallottoclaimagent@gmail.com
From: “Universal Lotto Winners” universallottowinners06@hotmail.co.uk
Bcc:
Subject: CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE WON CONTACT US
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 13:22:51 +0000
Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 22 Dec 2005 13:22:51.0958
(UTC) FILETIME=[CF813560:01C606FA]
Content-Length: 1154
FROM:THE DESK OF MRS ROSELIN MARTINS UNIVERSAL LOTTO COMPANY

We are please to announce you as one of the 100 lucky winners in the UNIVERSAL LOTTO draw held on the 21ST of DECEMBER, 2005 All 10 winning addresses were randomly selected from a batch of 50,000,000 international emails. Your email address emerged alongside 99 others as a category 2 winner in this year’s Annual UNIVERSAL LOTTO Draw. Consequently, you have therefore been approved for a total pay out of $3,000,000,00(Three Million US Dollars) only. In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications please remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers all correspondence
1,Email ticket number: ticket # 88171/29281/57363
2,BATCH:# 742-109-527-UK43
3,The file Ref # : 920/210/4509
4,lucky # 9-21-81-91-34-45
5,lotto code # : FL09622/UK

Please contact the under listed claims officer as soon as possible for the immediate release of your winnings:
Mr. Van Grov Chief financial Director The UNIVERSAL LOTTO AMSTERDAM-THE NTHERLANDS
Email : universallottoclaimagent@gmail.com
For processing and remittance of your cash to a designated account of your choice. remember, all winnings must be claim not later than 19TH of DECEMBER, 2005,

After this date, All unclaims funds will be returned to the International Lotto, you should contact Mr. Van Grov about the claimant procedures, send your fax and telephone to Mr. Van Grov, this will enable his office to send the claims application form (A4)to you the Beneficiary.

Please note, in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications please remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers all correspondence. Further more, should there be any change of address do inform Mr. Van Grov as soon as possible. Mr. Van Grov is responsible for the processing of your approved file to the bank for payment. Congratulations once again, from all members of staff and thank you for being part of our promotions program. Once again on behalf of all our staff, reply to (( universallottoclaimagent@gmail.com ))

CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Sincerely, UNIVERSAL LOTTO COMPANY Promotions Manager The Lotto company

__________________________________
Yahoo! for Good – Make a difference this year.
http://brand.yahoo.com/cybergivingweek2005/

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