MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Every day, hundreds of animals wait to be some family's new addition while they're up for adoption across Greater New Orleans.
"It was a pure-bred animal. It was coming with papers. They were willing to give it a home," said Becky, who asked us not to reveal her last name.
Many people looking for a pure-bred dog like Becky's family on the North shore turn to Craigslist. It was there, on the classified ads web site, that a "puppies for sale" post captured their attention..
"Everything did seem pretty normal. They even sent a picture online of the puppy," Becky said.
The picture was a closeup of an adorable Yorkie, so petite it could almost fit in your pocket. Becky's parents couldn't say no to that sweet little face.
"They looked up the people, and they called them, contacted them, spoke with them, emailed them back and forth," Becky said. She explained that her parents emailed back and forth with email@example.com. The phone number they used to communicate with the posters was out of Virginia.
"Originally, the price was $200, and that included the flight for the animal with a plane ticket, according to these people. My dad said I guess about an hour or two later, he received another email stating that the dog had been approved for the flight, and then they would need to pay another $525 for the veterinarian to actually approve the shipping of the animal," Becky said.
The costs totaled $725 for this cute pup described in detailed emails to the family as a 12-week-old Yorkie named Kendra.
"There is a specific place where they state the dog will be delivered directly to your front door," Beck explained. "What my parents were paying for was to ship the dog and have a courier service deliver the dog to their front door."
They paid using a credit card online via Moneygram, but the payment destination was to Cameroon, West Africa - a far distance from Mandeville, "The reason that they actually list in their email is that it was actually going to Africa was because their main office was being remodeled in the states," Becky said.
Becky's parents paid in full, but Kendra, the little Yorkie they had their eyes and hearts set on, never showed up. "They baited my parents with a puppy. They hooked them. They got $200. They got another $525.. My parents, they're good people, and they wanna believe everybody's good," Becky said.
Kendra may have never existed. Whoever advertised her used the name of a legitimate pet shipper as its email address. We've tried to reach out to the posters by email, and we called them, but so far we haven't heard back.
"Unfortunately, it's something that we hear more often than you would think," said Alicia Haefele. Haefele, who works for the LASPCA, suggests that buyers research names, phone numbers and email addresses of sellers.
"A lot of times if someone has been scammed through a web site like Craigslist trying to purchase a pet, then someone will actually go online to a review a site or post somewhere, and when you search that name or that phone number, sometimes that will pop up, and you'll get an indication that something's just not right," Haefele said.
Becky's parents never did get their money back, but they did adopt a dog on the North shore. Little Goldie is fitting in just fine with their family. They just hope by sharing their story, they can help others.
"I don't want it to happen to another person, especially to a family who may not have the money who think around Christmas time they're trying to get an animal for their children or another person who's just lost an animal, because that can be devastating to people," Becky said.
Besides researching the email address and contact info of the people you're dealing with, if you use Moneygram, the company suggests you only send money to people you know.
Have a consumer complaint? Call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397.