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N4T Investigators: Dog deceit? - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Dog deceit?

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ORO VALLEY - Pam Meichel bought a Cavalier King Charles puppy this week. She named the 9-week old Spaniel "Arlo" and is thrilled to have his company during her retirement. 

She bought the puppy from a legitimate breeder, after nearly buying one from an apparently fake breeder. She had seen a web site for "Joy Home Cavalier Puppies," a site filled with photos of irresistible pups.

Meichel told us, "The puppy was what attracted me. It was just the pictures of the puppies and I showed my husband and we thought, 'Oh, this looks like a great little puppy.' "

She and her husband were on the verge of buying a puppy supposedly named "Cooper." There's no phone number on the website, which is a big red flag, according to fraud experts.

She sent an email and quickly received a phone call from a man with a heavy foreign accent.

"It was actually kind of hard to understand. He talked very quickly. It was very hard to even get his name out," she said. 

The guy sent Meichel a "contract" filled with misspelled words. "Puppies" was spelled "pupies." He told her she could buy "Cooper" for $550, including air fare from the alleged breeder's home in Richmond, Texas. Another red flag, because Cavalier King Charles puppies typically cost between $1,800 and $3,500.

We asked Meichel whether she wondered why the price was so low. She said, "Yeah, I did. And it seemed too good to be true."

Still, she followed the guy's instructions and went to the Fry's store at La Cañada and Lambert to wire him the money using Western Union. The alleged breeder insisted on a wire payment, no credit cards allowed. A third red flag.

"He wanted the transaction to happen very, very quickly," Meichel said. 

At the last minute, she was talked out of the deal by alert employees at the Fry's customer service counter who told her about not wiring money to someone she's never met. 

"The money was in my hand." She said that if it wasn't for the Fry's customer service employees, "I probably would have done it."

I called the alleged breeder and got an answering machine and left a message. He didn't call me back but I did reach him a few days later. After I identified myself as a reporter, he hung up. 

Susann Miller of the Better Business Bureau says this type of problem "is huge, and it's something that's being reported nationwide and in Canada. It's not just Southern Arizona." 

Miller says you should never wire money to a stranger. You use a credit card so you can dispute the purchase if necessary.

"Really, it's about doing your research on the company that's selling the puppy. And if possible, especially if it's out of state, call their customers, get information from them. 

"Always think about rescuing a local puppy. And you know, personally, I've done it and it's been the best joy that I've ever had."

We asked Meichel, "If you could talk to this guy now, what would you say?"

She said, "I pretty much already did, I told him he was a scam artist. It's deplorable. I just can't believe that people actually do this. 

Meichel and her husband really wanted that purebred puppy, and paid $3,000 for him, including air fare, from a breeder in Ohio. If you're thinking about buying a puppy, here are some tips from the BBB:

  • Research the seller and obtain references.
  • Ask for medical records and pedigree.
  • Don't be swayed by a fancy website.
  • Make sure the price makes sense.
  • Never send, wire or use a money card to prepay people you have not met.
  • Beware of emails with multiple misspellings and grammatical errors.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com  or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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