A young Maryville couple spent hundreds of dollars for a new puppy, hoping it would be joy to their family, but they got nothing in return. They had fallen victim to an advance payment scam.
Amy and Trey Minnear discovered a puppy for sale in an Craigslist ad. The ad said a 12-week-old puppy was guaranteed, was up to date on its shots and, best of all, wasn’t expensive. The Minnears said they were interested because the dog was supposedly in Greeneville, not far from their home. Since they had just lost their Yorkie of three years, they were anxious to find a replacement.
Amy Minnear says her 2-and-a-half-year-old son Treyson really missed the family dog he had become familiar with. Treyson grew up with Solomon, a Yorkie who was about the same age. However, the dog died last month and is buried in the family’s backyard.
The family went online looking for a new Yorkie and soon found two puppies for sale on Craigslist.
“There was one that said, ‘One male one female Yorkie, teacup, to a very loving home,’” said Amy Minnear. “$250. AKC registered. Has their shots.”
Information about the 12-week-old pups, including a clean bill of health with up-to-date shots, gave the couple confidence.
“I thought it was a good deal. It said guaranteed on it. I thought it was a for-sure deal,” said Trey Minnear.
Amy Minnear sent the $250 by Western Union, but when it came time to make arrangements to get the dog, the person writing to Amy Minnear said he had moved from Tennessee to Southwest Texas. To keep the scam alive, the seller sent a certificate supposedly from El Paso transferring ownership to the Minnear’s.
“Then once we get all the paperwork done, change of ownership, everything switched over, all of a sudden Animal Express has a fee for a special crate that this dog needs to fly,” she said.
To transport he dog in a special crate would cost an extra $520. The Minnears agreed, went back to Western Union and promptly wired $520. However, Amy Minnear said she was told $480 would be refunded once the dog got to McGhee Tyson Airport.
“At first he was going to depart from El Paso, Texas at 6:35, go to Phoenix,” said Amy Minnear.
She has flight schedules showing when the dog would arrive in Knoxville, but Trey Minnear said once the arrival times started changing, they called the airport only to discover they had been conned.
“The dog was never coming,” said Amy Minnear. “[Our money was] gone. One hundred percent gone.”
Tyrine Hawthorne is one of the directors for Small Breed Rescue of East Tennessee. She’s aware of the advance fee airport puppy scam.
“You need to be able to see that animal. You need to be able to see where it lives. Their surroundings, it’s parents, pedigrees all that,” said Hawthorne.
“Well we own a $900, non-existent dog,” said Amy Minnear. “[I’ve learned] unless you can meet locally, see something, touch something and make sure it’s real, not to do it, period.”
“Whoever is doing it should get their punishment,” said Trey Minnear.
Whenever you are thinking about purchasing an animal sight unseen and online, you want to avoid wiring money. That’s a red flag. Ask for the seller’s name and search it online. Also search the photo of the cute puppy. It could very well be a stock photo.
Bottom line: if you are looking for a puppy, buy local.