Phoenix-area woman scammed out of $2,100 in 'Pet Scam'

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Mackenzie Umpleby went online to look for a new dog and got scammed. (Source: 3TV) Mackenzie Umpleby went online to look for a new dog and got scammed. (Source: 3TV)
After wiring $750, Umpleby waited until the next day when she got another email saying Picasso was in route, but that Umpleby now needed to pay an additional $1,400. (Source: 3TV) After wiring $750, Umpleby waited until the next day when she got another email saying Picasso was in route, but that Umpleby now needed to pay an additional $1,400. (Source: 3TV)
The pet company wanted even more money from Umpleby and that's when she figured out it was a scam. (Source: 3TV) The pet company wanted even more money from Umpleby and that's when she figured out it was a scam. (Source: 3TV)
Umpleby hopes no one else falls for it and is dealing with the loss of $2,100. (Source: 3TV) Umpleby hopes no one else falls for it and is dealing with the loss of $2,100. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Mackenzie Umpleby still grieves and misses her dog Macy and her cat named Diesel.

“I've actually just lost my dog of 10 years in January. And then, two months ago, I lost my cat," she said.

So, Umpleby says she and her boyfriend thought long and hard and decided now just might be the time to get another dog.

"We were excited," she said.

So, Umpleby got on to Craigslist and came across an advertisement for a little German shepherd puppy named Picasso.

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"We just got super excited and said that's the one," she said.

"You fell in love with him?" 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked.

"Yep, it was love at first sight," she replied.

Picasso was reportedly out of state. However, the company agreed to ship the puppy to Umpleby if she wired them $650 for the dog along with $100 for shipping.

“We were like, we've waited long enough, we can afford this," she said.

After wiring $750, Umpleby waited until the next day when she got another email saying Picasso was in route, but that Umpleby now needed to pay an additional $1,400. The fee was reportedly for insurance to ensure the dog arrived safely.

But, when Umpleby said "no way" because she couldn't afford that, the pet company threatened to have police criminally charge her.

"I'm sitting there and I'm being threatened with animal abuse charges, saying I'll be charged with mistreatment. They have my address and everything they need to convict me," she told 3 On Your Side.

So, Umpleby wired another $1,400 and once again waited until the next day.

That's when the company wrote her again requesting an additional $970.

This time for vaccinations and permits.

Reluctantly, Mackenzie sent the money.

However, as soon as she did, something told her to cancel the transaction and she did it just in time to prevent the $970 from going through.

"So, that's when I said every red flag popped up and I thought back on everything and I was like this is a complete scam," she said.

She's right. It was a scam, but by now, she had already forwarded more than $2,100.

Here's how the scam works: Con men click on dog pictures that they find on the internet, like Picasso, and paste them into a fake online company that they fabricated.

Then, they wait for unsuspecting victims like Umpleby to fall in love with the photo and the trap is set.

Umpleby hopes no one else falls for it and is dealing with the loss of $2,100.

“What does all the money mean to you?" Harper asked her.

"That's all my bills in a month,” she replied. “I'm working two jobs and I'm only 19. That's a lot of money to acquire and save up."

When it comes to buying a pet, 3 On Your Side advises staying away from the internet. And remember, if you’re ever asked to wire money for any product you may be buying, you’re most likely getting involved in a scam.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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