The Iowa City Municipal Airport put out a warning on Friday morning to alert people to a pair of scams, one involving puppies, the other involving jobs.
“The first scam was reported earlier this summer and involves groups posing as pet breeders who say they will fly a dog you purchased to the Iowa City Municipal Airport,” airport management said in a news release. “On top of a fee for the dog, the scammers say another large sum of money must be paid for insurance reasons.”
“No such transactions are authorized by the City or the airport.”
Apparently it took a while for this scam to arrive here. It became common around the country last year, as people shut up in their homes due to the pandemic began searching online for new four-legged friends to make lockdown a bit easier.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been tracking reports of phony online dog breeders who rip off people who have fallen for pictures and videos on their sites since 2015, but the scam exploded during the COVID lockdowns. Of the 5,768 incidents in the U.S. and Canada the BBB has recorded, 3,294 happened either last year or the during the first half of this year.
“Some scammers build elaborate custom websites with dozens of pictures of dogs and fake testimonials, authorities say,” the Wall Street Journal reported last September. “Others spam Craigslist with fake dog postings.”
The Journal called the phony online dog racket the “year’s biggest online scam.”
“For scammers, cute pictures are key,” the paper said. “This has made online dog celebrities into unwilling accessories.”
According to the Journal, photos of a group of high-profile pugs known on Instagram as the Pugdashians are frequently used.
“This sickens me knowing that people might fall for this scam,” Lori Sirois, who owns the Pugdashian, told the Journal.
The second scam airport management warned about on Friday doesn’t involve cute pictures, just job listings.
“More recently, several jobs have been posted online, including on Facebook, featuring non-existent jobs with the Iowa City Municipal Airport,” the news release said. “Recent scam positions have featured openings for both Airport Operations Manager and Airport Attendant. These job scams are an attempt to obtain banking information from applicants.”
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Actual jobs at the airport would be advertised on the city’s website.
Airport Manager Michael Tharp said anyone who sees questionable online postings about the Iowa City Municipal Airport should email him or call him at 319-356-5045.