Scam Alert: College Student Falls PreyPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - It started with an exchange of emails about a beautiful Pomeranian puppy described like this: 12 weeks of age, vet-checked, good with kids and other pets.
"Their story is that their daughter died and they are trying to give away this puppy because it is reminding them of their daughter."
Her 18-year-old daughter bought the story and things quickly turned ugly.
After going back and forth trying to work out the details via email, the Northern Arizona University student called her mom and said the puppy was being flown in.
All she had to do was pay $120 for ‘change of ownership fees.”
“Stop! Scam. Don’t do it,” Toraya said to her daughter as soon as she found out.
Her daughter sent an email to the so-called parents of this puppy saying, “My mother encourages me not to do it. I’m sorry for your time.”
The trouble is Toraya’s daughter had already turned over a lot of personal information including the name of her school, her zip code, cell phone and email, which is connected to all of her financial aid.
Toraya’s daughter, who we are not identifying by name for safety reasons, was not only left vulnerable but she was terrified.
She began receiving violent threats. “It will just take my guys to gun you down” read one.
Another threat was “I am lucky having your detailed address. If you do not want my guy over there to pull you down the stairs, make sure I have my money.”
When Toraya saw that e-mail, “I was scared” she says “that’s why I called you.”
3 On Your Side worked to track all of the numbers used to call Toraya’s daughter.
It turns out, while some area codes were showing up in the United States, they were all internet phone numbers.
Authorities tell 3 On Your Side these guys are calling and emailing from outside the country.
It’s not a new scam but Felicia Thompson from the Better Business Bureau says it is cause for new concern. “To get death threats and harassing e-mails,” Thompson says, “that’s a whole other level.”
Thompson told us the puppy scam is on their radar. “We see and hear a lot about puppy scams that are happening right now.”
“It was just amazing,” says a shaken up Lynda Toraya, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Toraya contacted campus police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
She also wanted to share the story with 3 On Your Side as a warning to parents to talk to your kids about protecting personal information.
“I’m going to start crying,” says Toraya. “Sorry … it’s just very scary. You have to be more aware and don’t give your information out. You never know.”