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Pet-shipping service’s pitch turns into a dog of a deal

A woman who fell in love with a puppy whose photo she saw online was left “empty-handed and broken-hearted” after a pet-shipping company kept her money but never sent the purchased pug.

The situation has prompted the Better Business Bureau in Albuquerque to issue an alert about the company – Mail Pet Express Travel Agency – which says it’s located in Santa Fe. The address it uses is actually “a million-dollar mansion that is listed for sale … and has no connection to a business breeding, selling and/or offering to ship puppies,” the BBB says.

The local BBB was unable to verify the company’s location, but its website – which has no content but takes you to a general search page – is registered in Yaounde, Cameroon. The Journal also was unable to locate the company.

In addition, it does not have a required license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ship animals, the BBB said.

Brian Baca, head of the regional BBB, advises people to “deal locally with companies you can meet face to face and never wire money to (anyone) that you don’t personally know.”

The broken-hearted woman contacted the supposed breeder after seeing pictures of the puppy. She was then contacted by the company and paid it $500 via Money Gram.

Soon after, she received an email saying she had to pay an additional $1,520 fee because weather conditions meant the puppy would have to be shipped in an electrified crate, the alert said. That’s when she contacted the BBB.

If you are thinking of using an animal shipping service, you can check the shipper’s licensing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at or by calling 844-820-2234.

If you get a phone call saying your lottery ticket is a winner, you are likely the target of a scam. Especially if you didn’t buy a lottery ticket.

The New Mexico Lottery says the most common kind of scam it sees is this: A caller, most often someone sounding like they’re from a foreign country, tells you that you have won the lottery.

They say, for example, if you send them $5,000 in “earnest money,” they’ll send you your $100 million winnings, explains Vince Torrez, New Mexico Lottery executive vice president for security. The scam can happen by phone or email, and sometimes they’ll even use the state lottery’s logo, he says.

Here are some things to know so you don’t fall prey:

  • The lottery does not call make any kind of initial call to people, informing them they have won. In fact, it works in the opposite way. You must notify the lottery if you have the winning numbers. (You can find out what those are from the lottery website or hotline, local media or some retailers.) You must produce your ticket, which will go through a validation process before you are awarded any prizes.
  • This might seem obvious, but – you can’t win if you didn’t play. Even though it’s tempting to believe that you won something, it’s just not possible if you didn’t enter.
  • Buy lottery tickets only from authorized New Mexico Lottery retailers.
  • Never give your credit card numbers to anyone promising lottery cash prizes or memberships.
  • Never respond or send money to someone who offers you a guarantee of winning a prize. The New Mexico Lottery does not guarantee you a prize, only a chance of winning one if you buy a legal ticket from an authorized retailer.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-800-678-1508.