Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #323
Nancy White Kelly

When spring arrives somebody ought to do Buddy a favor by locking me up until winter comes again. I go crazy just as soon as the flowers start budding and the birds start singing.

Usually it starts with Easter chicks and ducks. Some years I spontaneously buy colorful birds that catch my fancy in the pet shop or at a flea market. Usually there is a puppy in the Kelly mix and maybe a kitten too.

We have two cockatiels now, Tick and newly acquired Tock. In case you missed that story, go to We also have Siamese cat named Sam we got from the Humane Society. His owner was killed in a motorcycle accident.

In my rush to shed the winter blahs, I always plant spring flowers too early. Frost usually renders the first attempt null and void. Spring-themed banners and whimsical yard ornaments follow the gardening splurge.

Ye Old Coin Shop, which is located next to our house, was painted a bright canary yellow last spring. Charlie hates that color, but I remind him that he no longer lives with us. (Due to the economy, we had to let him go.)

Now that spring has sprung again, I have been in my usual spring craziness mode. This time I started on the puppy jag having lost our two Chihuahuas in the past year or so. Oppie died of kidney failure at the old age of 14. In our grief, we quickly acquired a darling puppy we named Midget who loved to play outside.

We forgot to close off the doggie door one afternoon when we went for a quick bite at a local restaurant. When we returned there was a message on our answering machine. She had been hit by a car. That was a sad day. I haven’t wanted another dog until recently.

While casually browsing on the Internet, I came across Craig’s list which runs classified ads. Sure enough there was a picture of a darling white Chihuahua with black spots and alert pointed ears.
The woman, whom I came to know as Amanda, shared that she worked for the Ameri-Peace Corp in Cameroon and was gone long hours. She really hated parting with little Tess, but her schedule and the grueling heat in Africa was taking its toll on the puppy.

Amanda said Tess weighed 2 pounds, was 4 months old, and never met a stranger. She had all her shots and was even AKC registered. Tess was leash-trained and fully housebroken. Had she spoken seven languages, she would have been perfect. Of course, I could have found a Chihuahua locally, but that picture of Tess just melted my heart. I had to have her. No other puppy would do.

Amanda and I corresponded back and forth by email several times before she selected me as the best choice of caretaker for little Tess. The really good news was that Amanda was giving me the puppy. Buddy, oblivious to this all, would have nothing to complain about. She was free. All I had to pay was the airfare which was a reasonable expectation. There was to be a nine-hour flight out of Cameroon to Atlanta that next evening.

Amanda sent me a couple of emails warning me to put up any toxic chemicals around the house and to hide any cords that Tess might chew. She also wanted assurance that my vet would check her out after arrival in the states.

PayPal wasn’t an option for her, so we agreed on Western Union. She came up with a test question and answer that only she and I would know. That way only she could claim the wired money.

I carefully filled out the Western Union paperwork at a local grocery desk. While in a happy and generous mood, I added a little extra to cover her gas. After all, she was a humanitarian worker. It was the right thing to do.

That was on Friday afternoon. All evening and late into the night I anxiously checked my computer for confirmation of the arrival time in Atlanta.

On Saturday morning I got an email from Amanda saying that the airport agent required insurance. She had just paid her rent and only had enough to make it through the month. Amanda’s email brought an urgent appeal. Could I cover the unexpected cost? Tess was now sitting in a cage at the hot airport and time was of the essence.

Before I could reply, I got a call from Cameroon. In broken English, a rude man informed me that I had to send $850 now so the puppy could go out on that last flight. That money would ensure that the dog was properly fed and cared for. Any money left over would be returned when I picked her up. What? Every possible emotion coursed through my body as I realized I was being scammed.

I was angry at Amanda, at the man, and most of all at myself. I learned a valuable lesson and a costly one. Never ever send money by Western Union to somebody you don’t know no matter how convincing they sound.

I have since learned that this is a common scam and many gullible others have also been victims. There is no recourse. I console myself that a bad experience is sometimes the price of a practical education.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I will never be scammed again… unless it is spring.

1 comment:

Bob Cleveland said...

AS the great Arthur Godfrey used to say, in his best Dutch accent ...

"Ve grow too soon old und too late schmart.."

.. as I was telling that nice Nigerian man who is helping me get rich off all that oil profit.