Troubling Tail: Woman gets scammed when buying puppy online

(WSVN) - Finding the perfect pet can be tough, but what should have been a happy homecoming for a South Florida family has turned into anything but. 7’s Nicole Linsalata has more in our special assignment report, “Troubling Tail.”

Dogs are more than pets in Ursula’s home.

Ursula de la Paz: “My dogs are like my kids. As a matter of fact, she used to jump inside my daughter’s crib for the afternoon nap.”

From homework to road trips, her daughter Amanda always had Natasha at her side. So when the pug passed away, it was devastating.

Ursula de la Paz
Ursula de la Paz

Ursula de la Paz: “She was heartbroken when she died, and we promised her that for her birthday, we would give her a puppy.”

They wanted to rescue a dog, but had a hard time finding a pug puppy at local shelters. So Ursula scoured the internet and found Princess.

She fell in love with the puppy from the online pictures, and emailed the seller. He told her he was in Georgia, but could fly the puppy to Miami.

Ursula de la Paz: “He told me I had to send him the money, so I sent him the money for the puppy — $630. Everything seemed OK, we exchanged information, I called him — perfect.”

But the situation was anything but perfect. As soon as Ursula wired the money, the seller stopped answering her phone calls. So, she emailed him. He did respond, but the news wasn’t good.

Ursula de la Paz: “He said ‘I’m sorry, I cannot answer the phone because I’m at work right now. I already dropped off the puppy at the company and they should be sending you an email.’ Which I got the email and they were asking me for another $2,000. I couldn’t believe it. I’m like, ‘Is this a scam?’ I can’t believe this.”

The Better Business Bureau agrees: Ursula is probably the victim of a scam.

Cinthya Lavin
Cinthya Lavin

Cinthya Lavin, Better Business Bureau Southeast Florida: “Online puppy scams are one of the most common scams that we have. They’ll send the money and not get a dog at all, and then the retailer will just disappear.”

Ursula thought she was safe because the man she was speaking to was nice, but the Better Business Bureau says just because a seller is helpful on the phone doesn’t mean they’re the real deal.

Cinthya Lavin: “It’s always to bait the victim into sending the money.”

Ursula de la Paz: “When you’re an honest person, and you do the right thing, you believe other people will do the same. But it’s not true.”

Ursula doesn’t expect to get her money back, but the family did get their perfect puppy — Sasha — who they found right here in South Florida!

She says she’s learned a good lesson: always know who you’re doing business with.

Ursula de la Paz: “A lot of people are making the same mistakes as far as trusting these people, and they just fall for it.”

If you are involved in a deal that seems fishy, the Better Business Bureau has information on their website on the latest scams.


Better Business Bureau: Southeast Florida & the Caribbean

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