Surprise couple conned in pet scam

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SURPRISE,  Ariz. -- An ongoing pet scam is targeting animal lovers. And one Surprise couple found themselves conned into dropping hundreds of dollars on what they thought was a "free" pet.

Victoria Clausing and her family have always loved animals. But there's one breed of dog she's always had her eye on. "My dream animal just had to be a Siberian Husky," Victoria says.

So for her 31st birthday, her husband Adam and their son Drake decided to surprise her with a Siberian Husky. 
They started by searching on the Internet, and soon came across exactly what they were looking for in Alaska. Not only was the dog available, he was free. All Adam had to do was wire $200 so the animal could be transported and delivered.

Eager to get the puppy, Adam sent the money. But as soon as he did, the seller told him  there was another charge. "And they said that the puppy was ready to go, ready to be shipped out, and then they called me back up saying, oh, there's another fee," Adam explains.

Adam says this fee was a $65 charge for the crate. So, Adam wired another $65, but the requests didn't stop there. It wasn't long before Adam got another call and was told to wire even more money. He was told that if he didn't, the dog might die.

"He said, if you don't pay $850, we'll charge you and sue you for pet abandonment," Adam recalls. Adam didn't wire the full amount, but he did wire half. Still, after sending all that money for a dog that was supposed to be free, the animal never did arrive.

However, the requests for more money to be wired kept coming. Finally, Adam contacted 3 On Your Side for some answers. "I don't believe there's a dog there," Adam said.

He's right. 3 On Your Side has profiled this type of scam before. And now many pet organizations, such as the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, are warning consumers against this type of scam, saying puppies offered for sale "don't even exist."

And The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that there are "unscrupulous people intent on making a quick buck by exploiting big-hearted animal lovers."

That's exactly what happened to Adam and his family. And now, they're out a total of $850. "I'm frustrated, stressed out that someone can do something so terrible to people just to get money out of them," Adam says.

It's a warning to consumers:  "If you are asked to wire, then they're a liar." It's an easy way to remind folks that wiring funds to someone you don't know is usually a scam and you have to be careful.