Puppy sale bogus

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An Alamo woman was taken for nearly $1,000 recently when she tried to order a Yorkie terrier over the Internet.

Socorro County Sheriff’s Department blotters report the woman tried from Oct. 22 to Nov. 9 to get the terrier, sending MoneyGrams to Africa. The suspects kept emailing the victim, telling her to send more money, but she never got the dog.

“People trust people,” Priscilliano Vaiza, SCSD chief deputy, said during an interview Monday. “They trust what people tell them.”

Vaiza said the woman saw the dog advertised online for $200. He noted the first shady detail is such a low dollar figure for a pedigreed dog, which can cost thousands. He said when she contacted the person, the man told her to wire him $200. Another man emailed the Alamo woman saying they needed another $250 for immunizations for the dog. Next they needed $300 for taxes.

“When they ask for more, that’s a red flag,” Vaiza said.

Vaiza said the woman sent them those amounts, but never received the dog. Finally she received another message stating she would have to send $1,000 or the men would contact an animal protection agency and report her.

“So she came to us,” Vaiza said.

Vaiza said when MoneyGram was contacted, the company reported the money wired had already been paid out so it was too late for the woman to get her money back.

Vaiza strongly recommended checking with the Better Business Bureau before sending any money to a company one hasn’t heard of before. He said people can look online to find information about companies, and there are many sources to consult.

“Or if they don’t want to do that, they can contact us,” Vaiza said. “We’ll do some work on finding out if it’s legit.”

Vaiza said one time someone reported a possible scam and gave the company’s street address to the sheriff’s office. He said they looked the address up on Google Earth and found it was an empty lot, not a business at all.

Vaiza told another story about an elderly lady who got a call from a man last year who claimed to be her grandson. The man said he was in a car wreck in Mexico and that he needed money.

“And he told her, ‘Don’t tell Mom,’” Vaiza said. “‘She doesn’t know I’m in Mexico. It will make her worry.’”

Vaiza said that woman wired money twice — $5,000 and $7,000. She finally talked to her other daughter and found out her real grandson was in Farmington the whole time and perfectly safe.

Vaiza said the sheriff’s department worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and they knew where the money was picked up. The suspect even presented identification featuring the grandson’s name, which was different from the grandmother’s name, at the Western Union office. Vaiza noted some scammers really do their homework on their victims; people need to double check all information all the time when they’re considering sending money.

“If you feel you’re being scammed, give us a call,” Vaiza said. “Or city police or state police, any law enforcement agency.”

Vaiza said for every person who reports a scam, there are many more victims who don’t come forward because they are too embarrassed they got taken. He encouraged everyone to report fraud no matter what.