PHOENIX -- Shaun Johnson and Hillary Hirsh are big dog lovers and wanted to add one more pet into the mix. So, they went on the Internet and came across an ad for a bulldog that was out of the area but was being given up for adoption.
“It was a Phoenix classified ad for animals, it stated that she had two bulldogs, a male and a female, that really needed re-homing,” Hirsh said.
According to the seller, the bulldog that the two wanted was free, but Johnson and Hirsh would have to pay a $150 transportation fee to a company called Jetpets to get the dog shipped to Arizona. So, they wired the money as requested. But as soon as they did, Jetpets told them they also needed to wire an additional $1,200 to cover insurance, money that was fully refundable once the bulldog successfully arrived.
Hirsh and Johnson looked into Jetpets again, just to make sure, and thought the company could be trusted. Hirsh said the company has a website and that they are well-known for transporting animals to get to and from locations. So, the two decided to go ahead and wire the $1,200, thinking they would get it back once the dog arrived.
However, now there was another request for $400 and $300 for vaccines -- money that they wired again. Turns out, the bulldog arrived at Sky Harbor International Airport but was extremely sick and Jetpets needed an additional $700 for treatment before it could be released.
“The last email said that she would be dead within 48 hours without a $700 payment for treatment,” Hirsh said.
Remember, that cute little bulldog was supposed to be free, but Johnson and Hirsh found themselves more than $2,000 invested into their pet. That's when they turned to 3 On Your Side.
“It was supposed to be $150 only for transportation; we've invested $2,500 at least,” Hirsh said.
3 On Your Side discovered Jetpets is in fact a legitimate company that transports animals for a fee. However, they say scammers use their name and logo and pose as their company in order to rip people off. That's exactly what happened to Johnson and Hirsh, except now, they're realizing the scam too late. As a result, they have a warning for anyone looking to buy a pet.
"Whatever state you're in, if you can't go pick it up then don't get it,” Johnson said.
As for Jetpets they did email 3 On Your Side a statement regarding how their name is being used by scammers and that statement can be found below:
My name is Danny Burkandt, I am the National Sales and Marketing manager here at Jetpets. Jason has provided your details to me.
As he has advised there is a “sophisticated” network of people that have found ways to plagiarize legitimate business entities in order to swindle funds from unsuspecting and vulnerable people who believe their claim regarding a cheap puppy in a faraway place is within easy reach by just depositing funds to a Western Union account.
The industry as a whole is going to great lengths to try and stamp this out as “we as companies” are falling victim right around the world, as well as the unsuspecting public.
You can also see some general details at http://www.ipata.org/pet-scams/
I wish you all the best with your story and thank you for taking the time to investigate what is very much a frustrating and concerning issue for our industry.