Warning after Valley man almost bought into online puppy scam

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PHOENIX - A Valley man called 3 On Your Side after an internet offer he found seemed suspicious.

This scam is taking place on the internet and as one Valley man found out it takes dog lovers on an emotional and financial ride.

Jeff Leroy said he turned to the website Azcentral.com during his search for a new puppy earlier this year.

"We don't have a whole lot of money right now so I was looking through there and kind of e-mailing people that said puppies up for adoption," Leroy said.

He replied to about a half-dozen ads for free puppies and all of them wrote back with similar stories.

"Basically said I have a bunch of Yorkie puppies, I adopted them all out, I adopted one to a lady who was sent on a mission trip, a Christian mission trip to South Africa," he said.

Leroy e-mailed the women overseas who said she couldn't keep the puppy in such harsh conditions.

She said Leroy could adopt the poor little pooch if he wired her $200 for shipping fees.

"When she started pushing the Western Union thing, just Western Union them anything you can, then I was like ok, that's kinda weird," he said.

Believing the e-mails were suspicious, Leroy contacted 3 On Your Side.

Turns out, the ad is just a new twist on an old scam.

This time, scammers are luring victims with the offer of cute cuddly pets to tug at their heartstrings.

"When you're looking for a puppy, you don't think someone on the other end might be looking to get your money," Felicia Thompson said.

Felicia Thompson with the Better Business Bureau said like most scams, the puppy scam has actually been around for a while.

Ads are placed in newspapers and on the internet and usually involve someone that's moved to another country.

Sellers promise to send the dog once the victim pays hundreds of dollars in shipping fees.

"The problem is they'll ask you to ship it Western Union where there's no paper trail and there's really no guarantee that that puppy's gonna come back to you, and a lot of times it never does," Collins said.

Leroy did end up adopting a pet here in the Valley.

He said he's glad he didn't have the $200 to pay for the puppy, otherwise he says he knows he would've been ripped off.

"I almost got taken, and if I had had $200 dollars at the time, probably would done it and just cuz emotionally, I got wrapped up in it," he said. "It's a bummer to know that's the way it would've ended up."

We contacted the folks in the classifieds department over at Azcentral.com, who tell us they do remove ads if they are suspected of being scams.

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