Canine Crime: Scammer cons military family out of thousands

Posted at 12:07 AM, Mar 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-21 00:45:55-04

A military man wanted to get his wife a puppy, but instead of getting a new furry friend, the couple became the victims of a canine crime.

Rachael told NewsChannel 3 her love for a 'French bull dog puppy' turned into a $6,000 loss.

It all started when the couple launched an internet search for the puppy of their dreams.

They connected with a man in Utah who said his wife just died, and it hurts too much to keep his new puppy. It was exactly like the dog Rachael and her husband were looking for.

They were instructed to wire money to a person in Cameroon, and then there was another request for cash. And yes, the money needed to be wired.

"They needed $1,950 to send the dog with the insurance,” says Rachel.

The receipts for wire transfers were piling up but still no dog!

And the caller was relentless in his demands for more money. The tone of the calls grew more intense! The scammers told them they could be criminally charged for abandoning the puppy.

"We got scared. That's why we kept paying the money because I didn't want to go to prison for years for animal cruelty,” says Rachel.

Using fear and persuasion,  the scammers were clever!  They sent messages with transportation details and multiple fees to be paid for insurance , city licenses and permit papers.

FBI special agent Robert Cochran says that is the most common red flag.

“If they ask for additional money from the initial transaction, then you can most certainly believe that it's a scam,” says Cochran.

Rachael and her husband forked over thousands and still the scammers wanted more.

"I finally went, ‘No, I'm not giving you another dime.’ I didn't have any money to give him and they kept calling me,” says Rachel.

The FBI partners with the National White Collar Crimes Center to combat internet crime.  But in cases where money is wired, it’s not an easy case to crack.

"In this case, sending cash to some unknown location, in any place in the world and by doing that it’s almost impossible for us to recover those funds,” says Cochran.

NewsChannel 3’s Barbara Ciara took action and called Cameroon with the number Rachael provided. The scammer continued to lie and tried to get Barbara to send more money!

Thankfully, Rachael is no longer wringing her hands over the lost money. Now she just wants others to learn from her example.

If you feel like you've been the victim of this kind of crime, click here to file a complaint.