Donna James said she paid for a Cavapoo puppy through a breeder on Facebook. But she still has yet to get the dog, nor was her money refunded.
NORFOLK, Va. — As soon as you walk through the front door of Donna James’ Norfolk, Virginia house, you are immediately greeted with a large, empty animal crate and fluffy dog bed.
“I got the paw paw pads, the harness and the leash,” James said, rattling off a list of items she purchased in preparation for a new Cavapoo puppy she expected to show up at her front door in September.
Her excitement quickly turned to anger after James realized the $900 she paid for the new pup would still leave her empty handed.
James said she got the idea to look for a new dog on Facebook at the suggestion of a staff member at a nearby pet store. She searched the platform and found a page titled “Cavapoos near me for adoption.” The page featured an assortment of Cavapoo puppies in a variety of colors.
She said they were “irresistible” and she just had to have one.
“I saw this one puppy and I wanted to know more,” James said. “So, I reached out to [the breeder], and he got back to me probably within 45 minutes.”
James chatted with a person whom she believed was a breeder from the “Cavapoos near me for adoption” Facebook page.
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“I started asking questions,” James said.
Later she asked for a photograph of the pup, and was sent a video. She instantly fell in love and even decided on a name–Brandy.
To complete the purchase, James sent $750 and an additional $150 transportation fee to the person who identified himself as the breeder. Cavapoo puppies can cost upwards of $4,000, so James felt it was a deal.
The breeder promised, via Facebook message, that the dog would “come with its shots, vaccines and be potty trained.”
But as the conversation continued between the two, James grew suspicious. She requested a conversation via Zoom, but was met with opposition.
“I have already sent you pictures and video of the puppy you will be getting,” the breeder wrote in response.
James tried again but the breeder declined, a Facebook chat between the two showed.
“I want to assure there are still people out here who still believe in humanity and my family, and I will not stoop that low,” the breeder wrote in a Facebook message.
Although still feeling uneasy about the transaction, James sent $900 through the payment app, Zelle.
“I should have just listened to my heart when the first flash came and the guy wouldn’t do the zoom call,” she recalled.
In a follow-up email, James was given a tracking number and directed to the website flightnannypettransportation.com. She entered the number and could see what she thought was her newly purchased pup making its way to Norfolk.
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“It told me the estimated time of delivery for the puppy,” she said. “Well, you know 5 p.m. came and there was no puppy.”
When the dog failed to arrive at the estimated time, James received a phone call. She said a man on the other end told her to check her email. An email informed James of COVID restrictions complicating the transport of the dog. It claimed a “specialized crate” was needed and required an additional payment anywhere between $700 to $1,200; the email claimed the sum would later be refunded.
James’ initial payment included a transportation fee. Fearing the worst, she canceled her order and demanded a refund. To this day, James still has no dog nor her money.
“I contacted the Norfolk Police Department,” she said. “One of the officers said we have been getting a ton of calls about scams like this.”
She filed a complaint with the FBI that investigates alleged puppy scams.
A 2022 Better Business Bureau report said online purchases ranked as the riskiest when it comes to scams; pet purchases topped the list.
WUSA9 went on the “Cavapoo near me for adoption” Facebook page looking for answers, but found none. We also called the number listed on that page, sent several emails, but have received no responses.
As for the transport company that was supposed to deliver James’ pup, several red flags were noticed. The website contained grammatical errors, social media links that don’t work and a phone number that connects to a private cellphone; all calls to the number listed have gone unanswered.
“They will get exposed sooner or later,” James said.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
For anyone looking to purchase a puppy, the recommendation is to work with reputable organizations like the American Kennel Club and Best Friends Animal Society. Here’s a link with other reputable organizations for research.
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