Nova Scotia woman warns others after falling victim to online puppy scam

Click to play video: 'N.S. woman falls victim to online puppy scam' N.S. woman falls victim to online puppy scam
A Nova Scotia woman says she's out thousands of dollars after falling victim to an online puppy scam. She was trying to buy a dog for her daughter with autism before the holidays, but as Graeme Benjamin reports, she’s now warning others to think twice before sending money online – Dec 10, 2020

A Nova Scotia woman says she’s out thousands of dollars after falling victim to an online puppy scam, and is now warning others to think twice before sending money online.

Laura Campbell says she and her family have always wanted to have a giant dog to call their own, so she started exploring different breeders online.

“Everyone’s had a tough year, so this would have made things a little bit brighter, a little sunshine at the end of the tunnel,” said Campbell.

Laura Campbell speaks to Global News on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Graeme Benjamin/Global News

She eventually found a company called Starland Mastiffs, where she found a 10-week-old puppy named Andy she thought would be perfect for her family.

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According to their website, Starland Mastiffs calls itself a “family-owned and managed business that holds the puppies’ health, happiness and well-being as our top priority.”

Global News reached out to Starland Mastiffs for comment but did not receive a response.

Campbell says she felt like she did her due diligence by cross-referencing the company with the Canadian Kennel Club, where Starland Mastiffs was listed as a member in good standing.

“I later learned from the RCMP that was probably also a fraudulent, cloned website,” said Campell. “So, lesson learned there.”

Click to play video: 'Protecting yourself and your money while online shopping' Protecting yourself and your money while online shopping
Protecting yourself and your money while online shopping – Nov 28, 2020

Prior to knowing that, she contacted the breeder and started the process for adoption. She says they asked for references, and she decided to go ahead with it and sent over $1,000 to the company via e-transfer.

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“All of sudden, they had asked for more money because the ‘wrong crate was provided,’” says Campbell, “so I provided the deposit to the shipping company, which I did online on their website.

“Which is when I put my Visa card in.”

That, Campbell says, resulted in her identity being stolen and a PayPal account being created in her name.

“That’s when I kind of clued in like, ‘OK, I think I’ve been scammed,’” she said.

“The worst part was having to explain to my daughter that there was no puppy coming. My daughter has autism, she understands there’s no dog coming but doesn’t understand as to why.”

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Nova Scotia RCMP confirm an investigation into the incident is underway. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce says especially with the holidays right around the corner and more people turning to online shopping, it’s important to stay vigilant.

The person has to really do their due diligence to make sure that hey, this is a legitimate person that’s in this here business that I’m sending this money to,” he said.

“Ask the person of the history of what you’re purchasing. Try to ask for something to be in the photo, like a Tim Hortons coffee cup or a tennis ball or today’s newspaper to make it current.”

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Laura Campbell says even though the situation is somewhat embarrassing, she hopes sharing her story will remind others to think twice before forking over money online.

“If you are looking, just do that extra little bit of diligence,” she said. “Even if you think you’re doing your due diligence, do a little extra.”

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