Local News

Lee County Man Victim Of Puppy Internet Scam

Posted December 29, 2005 7:14 a.m. EST

— Ronnie Johnson's children, Angel and Alexis, love their English bulldog, Savana, so much that he wanted to buy them another one for Christmas.

So, he went online to PuppyFind.com, where a puppy called Gypsy grabbed his attention.

  • On The Web:

    N.C. Attorney General's Office

  • After several e-mails, he wired $867 to the puppy's apparent seller in Florida.

    Then, she sent an e-mail to Johnson with a flight number and a time that Gypsy would arrive to North Carolina. But Gypsy never arrived.

    "That's frustrating -- driving to an airport at Christmastime, dealing with all that, and then finding out there ain't no puppy," Johnson said. "It's hard to sleep knowing you sent $867 and knowing you got nothing to show for it," Johnson said.

    The North Carolina attorney general's office deals with thousands of Internet complaints similar to Johnson's every year.

    "There's a very good chance he won't ever see his money or his dog," said Gary Govert, special deputy attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general's office.

    Govert says buyers should gather as much information as they can about individual sellers, like those at PuppyFind.com, before they buy something over the Internet. Even with more common Web sites, such as eBay, buyers can be victims of Internet fraud.

    "The Internet is a useful tool, but (is) also a scammer's playground," Govert said.

    Govert suggests that instead of sending money orders or wiring money to sellers, like Johnson did, the safest type of transaction is a credit card or service, such as


    , where charges can be disputed.

    As for Gypsy, shortly after Johnson says he sent his money to the seller, the same dog in the same photo, appeared again on the pet site with a different name and a different state where the apparent breeder is located.

    "I was mad," Johnson said.

    WRAL tried contacting PuppyFind.com, but has yet to receive a response. The dog's seller replied to an e-mail that WRAL sent, only saying, "Happy New Year to everyone in North Carolina."