At first, the ad, which ran in the Dec. 22 and Jan. 5 issues of The New Yorker, looks pretty simple: Free puppies.
Until you think about how much it would cost to place an advertisement in The New Yorker — even one that is a simple 1-inch, black and white, classified-style ad.
The answer, according to the Condé Nast media kit, is $6,066 per issue.
Free pet scams are almost as old as those emails from supposed Nigerian princes who just need a few hundred dollars to send you millions in return.
They say the pet is free, but you have to pay several hundred dollars for supposed vet bills, or change of ownership papers, or to have the pet shipped to you the next day via air mail from some far flung location.
The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association has a list of all the indicators that an online pet ad is a scam, and the email response from "Richard Wilson" to BuzzFeed News has them all.
First, the scammer asks for information from the recipient to establish a rapport, and sends photos of the puppies that can usually be traced back to other online sources.
A quick Google search of "Big Sky Bloomfield Shipping Pet AGENCY" lands on a Topix forum of over 600 people who say they were, or were almost, scammed out of hundreds of dollars thinking they were going to rescue a pet.
The New Yorker, which has a disclaimer of warranties in its advertiser contract, was not the only publication where an ad using this email address was placed. However, the others were either online forums or local papers where the fee for classifieds is around $10 an issue.
A spokesperson for The New Yorker told BuzzFeed news they are "reviewing the advertisement and will pull the final insertion, slated to run in the January 19th issue, if it’s not a legitimate offer."
An official statement from a New Yorker spokesperson has been added to the story.