Searching for a small-breed puppy to buy in Haiti, I stumbled across this website, which appeared to advertise page after page of dream dogs, many of them allegedly available for free.
Many of the ads had a missionary-sounding email address, starting with the words ‘catholicmembers’. It seemed to suggest that missionaries were raising a lot of dogs – Yorkies, Beagles, Jack Russells and so on – even as they did God’s work.
I rang them. The phone number began +237. Yes, said the man at the other end with Uriah Heep oleaginousness, “I have puppies, SMS me your email, I will send you information.”
He had, what might have passed for a Nigerian accent but I couldn’t be sure, my knowledge of African pronunciation being limited.
As I waited for his email, I thought it might be nice to check where the puppies were located.
“We’d like to come and take a look,” I told him when I rang a second time. “Where are you based?”
“The British Ca…,” he mumbled.
“I beg your pardon?”
He mumbled his location again. It might have been British Cameroon, or the British Cayman islands or really nowhere at all because there is no British Cameroon. But once upon a time, there was a British Cameroons, a territory in West Africa, which is now Nigeria and Cameroon.
I then discovered that Cameroon has +237 for a country code and then I found this excellent conversational thread about the way that large numbers of “missionaries” were supposedly doing “god’s work” even as they allegedly bred puppies purporting to be available to ship from locations that had +237 numbers.
Two good examples of the way the scam works are below. As the phrase goes, crookeder than a dog’s hind leg.
|Re: 237 area code
I have had experience with a lot of people from camaroon africa claiming to be on a ” missionary trip” any number with a 237 area code is a scam. I have beenlooking to buy a yorkie and ive ran into about 27 people from camaroon, all being scams, ive already lost 400 dallars to scammers from out of country so be careful! if you buying an animal from an online ad, i would stick to buying then in the US.
|Re: 237 area code
I don’t know if this will ever be read…the original thread is several months old. Recently, I shopped for a Maltese puppy on the internet and learned two things: (1) the least expensive puppies, although sellers state they are AKC registered, champion bloodlines, blah, blah, five out of six I e-mailed ended with them telling me I need to wire the money immediately to Cameroons, Douala, Littoral 237 area code; and (2) apparently hundreds of Maltese breeders have re-located to Africa as missionaries “doing God’s work”. This was a real eye-opener. I actually believed the first guy until he wouldn’t tell me where the puppies were (the ad said central FL which is within driving distance. I wanted to see them and pay when I picked one up) and I needed to wire the money to New York…even tho he was supposedly in Africa “doing God’s work”…could barely write English that I could barely understand…and his name was Richard. Yea. OK. The second guy is now telling me he will send the money to ME to have the puppy shipped…then I will pay him for the puppy…he is trusting me and now I should trust him. He, too, is in Africa…yep, you guessed it, “doing God’s work”. All I can say is…lightning strikes people like this.