Poodle Identity Theft

Weird:

Lynne Day said Afonwen Welch Fusilier -- or Blue, for short -- was targeted after his pedigree details were accidentally posted online.

A suspected conman has been passing Blue off as his own, claiming the dog has given birth to pups which he tries to sell to unsuspecting customers.

Posted on July 27, 2007 at 6:14 AM • 22 Comments

Comments

bobJuly 27, 2007 6:53 AM

You can hardly even call a Pedigree an "Identity" - after all even the breeder cant be completely positive that the match he arranged is the one which caused the pups; the pedigree reflects only what the breeder(s) told the registering agency(ies) over the years in the first place, and you have to take his word for it that "Fido" is the dog he is standing next to.

Bruce SchneierJuly 27, 2007 7:04 AM

If your family tree isn't your identity, then what is?

But yes, your point that all animal pedigrees are largely a matter of trust is a good one. When will we reach the point where genetic testing of show-grade animals is the norm?

ChrisJuly 27, 2007 8:30 AM

I don't know much about purebred dogs ("mutt" isn't just a good mail client), but I understand that in addition to trust that Fido is indeed Fido rather than Rover, there also are tattoos or subcutaneous RFID tags which are used. The number of the beast, one might say.

davidJuly 27, 2007 9:06 AM

Fairly amazing to have a dog give birth at all. Usually it's the bitch that gives birth.

JosephJuly 27, 2007 9:33 AM

"But yes, your point that all animal pedigrees are largely a matter of trust is a good one. When will we reach the point where genetic testing of show-grade animals is the norm?"

My wife works closely with a top breeder in our area. This is already the norm for high-end breeders. A difference of $5,000 for a proven pedigree easily justifies the expense for a DNA parental test.

http://www.google.com/search?...

TamasJuly 27, 2007 9:55 AM

@Joseph: people who spend $5k on a dog need to have their head examined. I can understand $500, even $1000 with a bit of a stretch, but above that it becomes something like collecting stamps: you value a stamp because others find it valuable. Except that for stamps, there is the issue of rarity, but for dogs, this is not so severe, even though there are of course constraints.

The underlying security problem here is that what is highly valued (a pedigree dog) has no intrinsic value, so people will try to fake it. Notice how the situation is similar to printing counterfeit money. The converse is that it is much harder to "fake" things which are valued for what they are, since a good fake requires that you reproduce the original article, and if the market forces have brought down the price to cost + margins, this is not highly profitable. No one fakes car engines, for example.

AndréJuly 27, 2007 10:02 AM

Knowing that almost all pure bread animals are a nightmare from a health point of view, (significant genetic predisposition to many diseases due to poor genetic variety), I'll take a mutt everyday.

Plus, it's a darn fine email client

MikeAJuly 27, 2007 10:26 AM

...No one fakes car engines, for example...

You clearly don't do much repair of moderate to expensive things. The passing off of various components as being new, or certified, or the tighter-tolerance or better material sort is rampant, in car-parts, electronics, etc. Once met a machinist who made a nice living machining bolts out of billets of proven provenance, for aircraft repair.

To be "not worth faking", the value of an article must lie in properties which are not only intrinsic but easily testable. Otherwise you are right back to certification.

GregJuly 27, 2007 10:30 AM

One of my friends is setting up a company to DNA test Pedigree lineage claims....

Steal that!

Brian KJuly 27, 2007 11:10 AM

>>No one fakes car engines, for example.

Yes, they do. When a '69 Corvette with an L88 engine can fetch well over $100k, and the same car with a base-model engine will only get $50k, it's a big deal. A common form of joke amongst the National Corvette Restoration Society is that time has taken it's toll, and of the 116 L88 Corvettes produced in 1969, only 160 remain.

An item can have intrinsic value and still be worth faking.

SteveJJuly 27, 2007 11:32 AM

@Bruce: "If your family tree isn't your identity, then what is?"

Ask someone who doesn't know who their parents are (for instance a "foundling" as they used to be called) whether they therefore don't have an identity.

SteveGJuly 27, 2007 11:33 AM

@Bruce: "If your family tree isn't your identity, then what is?"

Ask someone who doesn't know who their parents are (for instance a "foundling" as they used to be called) whether they therefore don't have an identity.

havvokJuly 27, 2007 12:10 PM

@SteveG

That is exactly the point; the 'foundling' maintains genetic identity even though all other identification is lost.

If the foundling has a reasonable idea of who the parents are, then it would be fairly trivial, through testing to verify the biological relationship. If there were samples available from the general population, it would probably be very easy to determine parentage.

The genotype of an organism is the most reliable biometric for determining identity, but even that is not foolproof (twins, perfect clones, etc).

When a rapid means for testing genotypes and a uniformly available reasonably static phenotype feature can be found, then a huge part of identification can be solved, at the cost of massive invasion of privacy of individual physiology :P

guvn'rJuly 27, 2007 12:20 PM

@Tamas, wonder how much Michael Vick spent, I'll bet it was thousands per dog even without including lost income, legal costs, etc.

but those dogs had no intrinsic value (hence the killings), just performance value. so while the breeders might be paid for bloodlines, it was the results of the fights that made the market.

no need for dna testing, just toss 'em in the ring and see who survives.

AnonymousJuly 27, 2007 1:46 PM

@tamas
"......No one fakes car engines, for example..."

You don't think there is a hugh industry in fake parts for vehicles? Try telling that to the military, auto industry, mining and heavy equipment industries, or the aviation industry...

Jim HorningJuly 27, 2007 2:55 PM

@André:
"Pure bread animals" are, of course, a rather silly thing for bakers to make--except, perhaps as decorations for a party celebrating the success of a purebred animal.

Because I know my dogs' pedigrees to more generations than my own, I know a lot about their genotype when I get them, and therefore have a higher probability of adding suitable members to my family than I would by adopting a mutt of uncertain ancestry. But some people prefer not to know what they're getting.

Jim H.

AllanJuly 29, 2007 12:47 PM

Everywhere where there is money to be made, there are people finding a way to con it. I still don't get how you can 'accidentally post something online'. I mean posting anything - accidentally ? ... you gotta do quite a few mis clicks before you end up posting a pedigree hehe.

Dave RJuly 30, 2007 5:53 AM

I seem to recall that Gary Glitter ( Paul Gadd) was caught for owning child pornography after the images were found on a PC he'd taken to PC World for repair.

AnonymousJuly 30, 2007 3:03 PM

"Knowing that almost all pure bread animals are a nightmare from a health point of view..."

Pure bread animals? Are they prone to yeast infections?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm of the opinion that value is a function of utility, and given the choice of a pedigreed dog or one with no pedigree, would chose whichever dog would be a better pet. The "utility function" of a dog, in that case, would be based on the variables of health, personality, and size.

Breeders obviously use a different utility function, and their choices, including the magnitude of the payment, are dictated by criteria such as bloodline, degree of exhibition of breed traits, and fertility. They may not make sense from the point of view of a non-breeder, but they are not less rational.

NotAnonJuly 31, 2007 8:48 AM

Doesn't the AKC require DNA registering for certain breeding animals? I think the limits are on number of breedings per year. With the goal of making it mandatory for all if the trial period goes well.

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