Call 11 For Action: Free puppies come with a costly scam - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Call 11 For Action: Free puppies come with a costly scam

Posted: Updated:

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) – A Toledo woman wanted to make sure the word got out about a scam that plays on people's love of animals.

"I'm sure people have fallen prey to this and have answered this ad and sent money to these people for a dog that they're never going to get. So that's the sad part of it," said Dawn Whitney.

Whitney found an advertisement from a local newspaper that immediately caught her eye. The ad offered two Yorkshire terrier puppies for free. She e-mailed a response to the ad because she wanted one puppy to join her very dog-friendly home and one puppy as a present for her neighbor.

"My next door neighbor who had lost her dog. She's grieving the dog. And I'm trying to make it a little easier because I love her," explained Whitney.

Whitney received an e-mail back containing pictures of cute puppies but when she read the e-mail, she quickly realized it was a scam.

"So they e-mailed me back immediately saying, ‘Greetings from the house of the Lord' and they kind of used religion to snag you," said Whitney."Red flags went up right there. I mean, who sends e-mails like that? It's really sad that they use God and they take advantage of people. They said the dogs were free, and then the next e-mail, they said I had to pay half the shipping because where they were the weather didn't allow them to keep the dogs."

The e-mail had other red flags: bad grammar and misspellings; requests for personal information; and a claim by the scammer that his family is out of the country.

WTOL's Craig Thomas responded to the ad with an e-mail. He got an e-mail back word for word with the exact response that Whitney received. After e-mailing again and asking for a phone number to call, no response.

The reason why scammers pay to run these ads is that sometimes they do actually work.

"A lot of people that are elderly aren't going to know that that's a scam. That's why I wanted to report it to somebody so maybe we could stop somebody from falling into the trap," said Whitney.

A trap easier to avoid if remembering: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Copyright 2011 WTOL. All Rights Reserved.