Tucson Mountain Beat
June 6, 7:04 p.m.
An extraordinarily trusting Tucson woman put a lot of time, effort and money into trying to purchase a puppy through eBay, only to apparently become the victim of a ridiculously long-running, intricate and disturbing scam, according to a Pima County Sheriff's Department report.
The reportee met with a sheriff's deputy in person to describe the incident: Since August 2015, she said, she'd been in contact with a stranger (purporting to be male) through eBay from whom she wanted to buy a pet puppy. She said she was told the dog would be transported to her in Tucson from Baltimore, Maryland, by way of a hired car, after she paid for the animal by mailing a $200 money order to an address in Cameroon—which she did.
During the course of the alleged transportation of the puppy, however, the woman received numerous text messages stating that the car carrying it had gotten into a bad accident in New Mexico, and the puppy had gotten hurt—in fact, its veterinary bills were approximately $1,200. (The person posing as the puppy's seller said the dog's health had been insured, but the insurance had happened to expire the very day before the accident.)
In addition to text messages, the woman said, she also received a photo depicting the puppy in an "air mask," apparently "receiving medical attention"—so she gave in and sent a $1,200 money order to the Cameroon address in hopes of keeping the puppy alive and obtaining ownership after it had healed.
Earlier on the day of her meeting with the deputy, the reportee said, she'd contacted the "seller" about the dog's whereabouts and was told it had just been in another car accident—this time on I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix. After she determined that to be untrue, she said, and confronted the man, he stated he still had the dog in his possession but demanded an additional $125 to drive it from Phoenix to Tucson.
Getting fed up with this enterprise, the reportee refused to pay, telling the "seller" she'd already spent $1,400 for a dog she hadn't seen yet. In response, the man got "very persistent" in his attempts to obtain the $125, even refusing to allow her to drive to Phoenix to pick up the puppy herself.
Then, apparently, came the final straw: He threatened to kill the dog.
At this point, the woman told the reporting deputy, (finally) she "became suspicious and suspected this was a scam."
The Sheriff's Department hadn't taken concrete action on the matter at the time of the report, but the deputy photographed the related texts as evidence and gave the woman a "victim's rights" pamphlet.
In any case, her story provided a compelling argument for adopting shelter pets.