South Shore woman says she lost hundreds of dollars in puppy scam

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Charisma Cannon, a busy woman in South Shore, said she wanted a puppy to help keep her grounded. But she can't get just any breed.

"I have really bad sinuses, so I needed a specific dog, and I did a lot of research and found that a Havanese dog would be the best breed for me in terms of them being hypoallergenic and not having a lot of fur," she explained.

Cannon said she came across a Havanese website and fell in love with a puppy named Jet. She showed her mom pictures of the pup.

"She was like, 'Oh my god! He's so adorable! Get him, get him,'" she said.

Cannon said she filled out a form on the website and got a text stating the puppy would cost $700. She was told to arrange to pick up the dog in Boston, and pay a $350 deposit up front.

"They were like, send it via Western Union. I'm like, Western Union?" she recalled.

While it struck her as odd, Cannon said she reluctantly sent the deposit through Western Union. She said she waited for pickup instructions, but they never came. And then the so-called breeder stopped responding to her calls and texts.

"I was definitely scammed," Cannon said. "I was definitely scammed."

Determined to get justice, she filed a complaint with the FBI.

According to the Better Business Bureau's scam tracker data, which is generated from consumer complaints, pet scam losses have grown exponentially. In 2017 they were at $448,000 but in 2020 losses came in at $3.1 million.

"I've never had anything like this happen to me before. My friends know I'm very frugal and I always research and check things out thoroughly. So, I was like oh my gosh. How could this happen to me?" she said. "I don't have $350 and I don't have this cute adorable dog."

The I-Team did a reverse image search on the Havanese puppy and found the same puppy was posted on a different website. This is one of the ways bogus breeders trick consumers into thinking their business is legitimate.

The general rule of thumb is don't pay for a pet that you haven't seen in person.

For more information on pet scams, click here

If you have a consumer problem that you want Samantha Chatman and the ABC 7 I-Team to investigate, click here.
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