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Prescott Valley mother falls for 'pet scam'

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(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Diana Alvarez says she would do anything for her kids, including adding another dog to the family, since their current pet is getting up in years.

"I wanted to surprise my kids with a very small puppy because we already have a big dog so I wanted a small one," said Alvarez.

Alvarez started searching online and came across the perfect dog.

"It was like a toy Pomeranian, a very small, fluffy dog!" said Alvarez.

The little puppy that was posted online wasn't only adorable it was essentially free.

Because she said it wasn't about the money it was about finding the dog a new home

Although the out-of-state puppy was free the seller just needed Alvarez to pay for transportation, which sounded somewhat reasonable.

"It was originally $280 and she said well I can deliver for $150 that's all you're gonna pay and you can have your puppy tomorrow morning and I was like okay!" explained Alvarez.

So what did Diana have to do to get that cute little dog? It was easy as sending a money order.

"I was to money order $150 to her, and she gave me all of her information so I did, I went to Money Gram and I sent it," said Alvarez.

Alvarez said she was a little hesitant sending the money but her concerns were put at ease when she got a picture.

"I was like, I'm kinda nervous, you're far away and she sent me a picture of her!" said Alvarez.

Yeah, the mystery seller sent pictures via text messaging that convinced Alvarez that the entire deal was for real.

So, Alvarez sent that $150 and in return, received some "ownership" paperwork.

It's not the only thing she received. She also received a phone call with demands for more money.

"Within ten to fifteen minutes later a man called and was telling me I had an hour to pay $700 for the dog to be shipped to have the dog delivered," Alvarez told 3 On Your Side.

Things didn't seem right but the demands came with a threat.

"If I did not pay this that they were going to slap me with a lawsuit of $12,000 for abandoning this puppy at their delivery company," said Alvarez.

The threats and phone calls kept coming.

"He harassed me he told me I was going to jail if I didn't get this dog. If I didn't pay this money. And then he wouldn't get it through his head that I didn't have $700 to give him," said Alvarez.

Concerned, Alvarez reviewed the paperwork for that puppy and realized the United States doesn't have a Ministry of Livestock. There's no such thing and there were other errors like misspellings in that "official document" 

That's when she realized the whole thing was a scam. The picture of that cute little dog and the nice woman were probably copied and pasted off of an innocent person's social media page and is being used to bait people like Alvarez.

"It's so bogus. It's ridiculous and I didn't even catch it. I didn't even think about it. I was getting a puppy that's all I was thinking about," explained Alvarez.

She may be out $150, but she realizes it could have been more.

Now, she wants others to know not to fall for it.

"Definitely don't buy a dog or any kind of animal over the Internet unless you can see, unless you can meet those people, because they'll con you," said Alvarez.

Copyright 2015 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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