There's nothing like the excitement of finding a new puppy under the tree on Christmas morning.
Unfortunately, new puppies are tough to find this time of year, and one woman learned how easy it is to fall for a puppy scam in the hunt for one.
Jean Burich desperately wanted a new puppy in time for Christmas after losing her 10-year-old dog, her best friend.
So she searched online for a puppy just like hers and came upon a breeder who said he was also coping with a loss, the loss of his wife.
"The story was his wife had been killed in a traffic accident, a drunk-driving accident, five weeks earlier," Burich said.
All he needed was $300 for shipping from the Los Angeles area.
"That did not seem unreasonable," Burich said.
He told her to buy a prepaid debit card called a Reload-it Card, then text him back with the number of the card.
So Jean texted him and sent the money.
But the seller's next email said the dogs were not yet on the way because each needed a $400 insulated shipping crate.
"You think of the little puppy sitting on the hot tarmac melting away and your heart goes out and you say I'll spend $800 for that," she said.
Her total was now up to $1,100. But it got even worse. The breeder then wanted another $500 for travel insurance.
It was then that an alarm finally went off in Burich's head.
"I said no way, don't contact me again," Burich said. "You are scamming me. And you're not getting any more money from me."
Unfortunately, t was too late to get her money back.
Burich filed a police report, but the emails were from a foreign country and the money was gone for good.
Using prepaid debit cards are the same as wiring cash to someone. It's a scammer's newest friend.
So Burich just wants to warn others to watch for heart tugging tales, such as "his sad story of his wife, and the image of the hot puppy melting on the tarmac."
It's tales like that and cute puppy faces that make it so easy to put your better judgment aside.
The bottom line: Just like with cars for sale on Craigslist, and homes for rent in online classifieds, never send money to someone you have never met for anything you haven't seen personally.
That way, you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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