It all started when Annette Cormier saw an advertisement on social media that said “Puppies for adoption”, with pictures of a homeless mini-poodle.
It had been a year since Cormier had lost his own 17-year-old dog. She felt ready to welcome a new dog into her home, so she immediately messaged. She spoke to a woman on the phone, who requested an electronic transfer of $100 to hold the puppy.
A few weeks later, Cormier lost $1,600 to the puppy mill scam, and the Better Business Bureau of Atlantic Canada issued a warning about it.
This scam is more common than people realize and is particularly effective because it plays on people’s emotions, said Kristin Matthews, a spokeswoman for the organization.
“People are obviously looking for these puppies to add to their home and a new family member for companionship,” she said. “[Scammers] become really emotionally manipulative.”
A sudden “accident”
Cormier said that over the weeks spent dealing with the scammer, she seemed considerate and kind and offered reassurance. Cormier said she didn’t realize it was a scam until she was given two fake pickup locations.
“It’s my loss, my stupidity. I just don’t want anyone else to get caught up in the same situation,” she said. Information morning in summer.
Cormier said it started innocently enough. The person who posted the ad sent her a contract to sign to prove she was the new owner. The pickup date was set, but that morning the woman said her mother had had an accident and she and the pup were in Toronto.
“She says, I’m going to send you the puppy,” Corrmier said. “So time has passed. Day by day. OK, where’s the puppy?”
The scammer said the shipping company wanted $3,300 to release the pup. Cormier said she couldn’t afford it, so they decided to split the cost, with a $300 electronic transfer by Cormier.
But there was still no puppy and no word. The scammer then said that the transport company needed more money because they were boarding the dog.
Cormier said she paid the amount even though she questioned the scammer.
“I said, ‘Are you just hanging out, you know, that? Is it actually a puppy? And she’d come back and say, ‘Oh, well, you don’t have a heart. You’re just more worried about your money. And that poor dog is sitting in a warehouse somewhere'”
“It just made me feel so guilty.
These scammers are really good at hiding their identities, becoming untraceable.– Kristin Matthews, Better Business Bureau
Finally, the scammer gave him a pick up address on Coverdale Road.
The address was a vacant lot.
She passed this on to the scammer, who gave her a second address right next door.
“The second address was right next door. Well call me a sucker, I’ve been there,” she said. “[The resident] was shocked that someone came to her house looking for a puppy. We talked for a few minutes and she felt sorry that I was being turned on.”
Cormier said as the weeks went on she grew suspicious, but the scammer still managed to reassure her.
“The way she talked to me on the messages, it’s like, OK, no, she’s really caring and she’s caring about my feelings and that’s okay. Maybe it’s not a scam “, she said.
“When I went to the address and there was no dog there, it’s like, OK, yeah, I got ripped off for sure.”
Cormier said she plans to contact the RCMP. She doesn’t hold out hope of getting her money back, but she wants to share her story so people learn from her mistake.
Kristin Matthews said that unfortunately, once someone sends money, there isn’t much recourse as scammers use untraceable payment methods and are good at hiding their identities. It’s common for people to be embarrassed, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to report it through the organization’s scam tracker so other people know about it.
“These scammers are really good at hiding their identities, becoming untraceable. So that’s one of those things that, you know, we need to flag so people know.”
Cormier’s story has a happy ending. She was able to find a dog through a reliable source.