Couple loses $1,047 in cyber fraud
BY TREVOR WILHELM, THE WINDSOR STAR
NOVEMBER 30, 2011
They stocked up on dog food, bought chew toys and fell in love with a puppy that never existed.
Shelly and Roger Hunt are angry and heartbroken after falling victim to an out-of-province scammer who promised to send them a free dog. All they had to do was pay for the shipping.
After handing over more than $1,000, they were told the puppy left Vancouver on a plane, had a short stopover in Toronto and would arrive at Windsor Airport at 10: 37 a.m. Tuesday.
"Like idiots, we go to the airport," said Shelly Hunt. "The guy at the airport, he said, 'I don't know what you're talking about. That's just not how cargo works.' He checked over for the next week to check if maybe it could be true. There's nothing booked on a cargo anywhere."
The Amherstburg couple had been looking for a Husky puppy, but with Roger off work on disability, they didn't want to spend a lot of cash. They were hoping to find someone who needed to give a dog "a good home." Roger placed an ad on Kijiji.
Not long after, they received an email from someone named "Caroline" in Vancouver. Caroline wrote that her daughter had died and left her with a 13-week-old Husky named Bella that she couldn't care for.
If the Hunts wanted to adopt Bella, Caroline said she would contact a travel agent for pets. She also sent pictures of a dog. The Hunts fell in love.
Caroline sent another email stating it would cost $230 to fly the dog from Vancouver to Toronto, then to Windsor.
"We sent her the $230, looking very forward to picking this puppy up," said Hunt.
Caroline sent them a travel itinerary.
"She led us to believe the puppy left Vancouver last night at 11: 30 p.m., arrived at Toronto airport at 7 a.m., was held over for two hours and would leave Toronto airport at 9: 30," Hunt said Tuesday.
Then on Tuesday morning, they received another email. The dog was in Toronto, but the puppy transport company "failed to collect insurance on the pet."
"Without a fee of $1,300 at Toronto airport, they would not transport her any farther," said Hunt. "So she was just stuck at Toronto airport."
Hunt said she was told the $1,300 would be refunded to them once the dog was safely in Windsor.
"We quickly emailed her and said we can't get $1,300 together in five minutes," said Hunt. "We've got $750."
Caroline agreed to pay the rest. The Hunts raced out and transferred the $750.
"It wasn't even about the money," said Hunt. "By then we were in love with the dog and we just wanted her here. It was breaking our hearts."
With the money in place, the Hunts headed to the airport. But when they arrived there was no dog, just a confused airport employee.
With the original $230, the insurance and the money transfer fees, they lost $1,047.
"We bought puppy food yesterday, we bought her toys," Hunt said Tuesday. "For people to do this is terrible. I just don't want anyone to go through what we went through."
Amherstburg police said there's not much they can do because the fraudster is in Vancouver.
"Fraud over the Internet is not uncommon, and absolutely, people are going to have to be aware certainly if they're dealing with somebody out of province," said Const. Joan Lovell.
"You have to be pretty savvy about what you're dealing with and make sure you're not going to get involved with a scam."
She said the Christmas season can be a perilous time for shoppers as online scammers look for ways to rip people off.