Don't Waste Your Money: Family falls victim to puppy scam - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Family falls victim to puppy scam

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By John Matarese - bio |email

(WTOL) - The holiday season is the time of year we all want to believe in the best of people. That's why it's so easy to fall for an online scam this time of year. 

And that's why one Ohio mom desperate to buy her children a new puppy ended up out hundreds of dollars, with no dog.

Mary Beth Knight wanted to find an English Bulldog puppy to make her young children happy on Christmas.

"We were looking for a puppy. We lost our dog 5 weeks ago and the kids were so sad he died," said Knight,

So this educated, savvy business owner fired up the Mac and began searching for puppies. She said she soon discovered that "English Bulldogs are not cheap, sometimes they are are $1,500 to $2,000." 

She was thrilled to find one, at a much more reasonable price, being offered by a Veterinarian, a "Dr. Luis Garcia," according to the email she showed me.

Mary Beth told me "he was looking for a good home for the pup, and offered it to us for $600, including shipping from out of state.  I was instructed to go to Western Union and wire $600." 

So she did.

Mary Beth told her girls, and they began to prepare for the arrival of their new puppy. But she says she was stunned when the next email told her she'd have to send even more money. 

She said "I got an email supposedly from a  'relocation services' saying I had to pay another $1,250 for shipping insurance. My heart sank." 

When Mary Beth started investigating and learned where the money she wired had gone, her heart sank further. "The money went to Vietnam," she said. 

She researched online, and learned there was no Vet with a puppy for sale. And there was no way to get the $600 back.

It was the classic foreign puppy scam: Someone in another country steals a photo from a legitimate ad, and reposts it in phony one, using a made up name. 

As we looked at various ads, Mary Beth stopped at one and said "it's the same dog! It was in Maryland, now its in Massachusetts!" 

She saw two identical ads, featuring the exact same photo of a bulldog puppy, with the same person selling it, but living in two different states hundreds of miles apart. The only contact info was a Yahoo email address.

Good news: Mary Beth finally located a puppy, close to home, that she is now giving her children. 

But she wants to warn others, before their emotions blind them this holiday season. So don't let this happen to you: 

  • When looking for a pet, deal with local sellers if possible.
  • Don't let emotions cloud your decisions.
  • And never wire money without seeing the dog: thats a red flag you're dealing with a scammer who will steal your cash and your heart.

Watch John Matarese's Don't Waste Your Money reports Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WTOL 11 News at 5.

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