Connecticut Family Gets Taken In AKC Puppy Scam

An Eastern Connecticut family learned the hard way that AKC registered puppies aren’t given away for free.

The desire, however, to surprise a family member who had lost two dogs last year overrode all common sense and,238746

Sisters Tammy and Wendi wanted to purchase an English Bulldog for their brother Greg, whose two mastiff’s had died.

Working with another family member – Amanda – they checked the Internet last month where they started seeing ads for free AKC registered puppies available for adoption. They started emailing.

“These people are all over the country, we got responses from Florida, Montana, Delaware and Hartford,” says Wendi, who asked that their story be told because she wants to warn others against falling for these scams.

“These people offer free adoption, you only need to pay for shipping,”  she said. She asked that the family’s last name not be used.

They narrowed their search to a woman allegedly in Montana, Cynthia Fierro, who had a sob story about how she became the owner of Nick and Lucy, two 11 week old puppies.

“These puppies where given to me by a cousin of mine who past away a few weeks ago, and i have recently discovered that these puppies need so much love and attention which can not be provided by us because i am very busy with my new job, and my brother too who is in the army is very busy. making these puppies to be so lonely at home when we are at work. So we consulted our pastor and family friend who advised us to give them out for free to any loving and caring home as a sign of respect to my cousin who past away,” Fierro wrote to Amanda in an email.

She explained that it would cost $300 to ship one puppy but only $450 to ship both. There would be no other charges, the family was assured.

There were plenty of clues in the email exchanges and in the photos Fierro sent of the puppies that should have warned the Connecticut family that something wasn’t right.

First, the photos of the dogs were taken outside on green grass, supposedly in early January.

“There should have been snow instead of grass,” Wendi says now. The writing also indicated that it was someone who may have learned English in a different country and was not fluent.

But having heard stories of others adopting puppies for free kept the family on the hook.

Tammy decided to have both puppies shipped to Connecticut and she would give them to their brother for his birthday.

Then came the biggest clue. The family was instructed to send $450 by Western Union to Cameroon in Africa where the air shipping company supposedly has an office.

The instructions specifically said not to mention to Western Union employees that the money was for puppies because there would be an extra service charge. Instead they were told to say the money was for a relative.

By the time Wendi and Tammy got to the Western Union outlet in a Colchester grocery store, Wendi said she was “shaking and my stomach was upset.”

“I said ‘Tammy, this doesn’t feel right, sending the money to a woman in Cameroon.”

But Wendi said her sister had “blinders on. She wasn’t thinking.”

Tammy sent the money and a few days later she followed emailed instructions to drive to Bradley International Airport for a 9 a.m. flight to pick up the puppies. She had no idea where she was supposed to have picked them up at the airport.

Five minutes away from the airport Tammy received an email telling her the puppies could not be picked up until she paid an additional $1,860 for insurance which was somehow to be reimbursed.

That is when she finally knew she had been taken.

“I got burned pretty bad,” Tammy said, but at least she said she didn’t fall for the insurance payment.

This story does have a nice ending. The family didn’t give up and searched Connecticut newspaper ads for puppies. They ended up buying two boxers from a breeder in Torrington.

“They are just wonderful boys,” Wendi said of the two, which they saw in person before shelling out the $1,000.

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14 Comments on "Connecticut Family Gets Taken In AKC Puppy Scam"

  1. I can’t believe ANYONE would fall this. WHY in the worled would you buy a dog in the first place rather than adopt. And, why would you get one SIGHT UNSEEN? You have NO idea what the dog is like if you haven’t met it. EVERYONE knows that buying a puppy from a PET STORE you are paying 3 times as much and most likely will end up with a sick dog. You have to live in a bubble not to know this. I hate to say this but these people got what they deserved. ADOPT don’t SHOP. There are wonderful dogs in shelters. If you want a specific breed, then search on PETFINDER.COM or a rescue of that breed and be PATIENT. The exact dog you are looking for will be available sooner or later.

    • Adopting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Some of these “so-called” rescue orgs are way too picky. Not too many seem to be good enough to take in an animal. This drives too many people to purchase rather than go through the endless hassle of adopting. Shelter’s are better, if you can find the right animal.

  2. ANY breeder who sells anyone two puppies at once is NOT a good/reputable breeder! That is all about doubling their money in one sale! It is a rare person who is willing, able and capable of socializing each puppy individually as they must be in order to develop into “normal” healthily socialized pets without total dependency on each other. If not socialized independently from each other they often cannot be separated without extreme stress and anxiety for both! Be sure to do your homework when buying a puppy. Go to the “breeders” home, check it out. How are the adults? Healthy, social, friendly, clean? Ask to see vet records, and any health clearances such as OFA, eye, heart and other clearances advised for the particular breed you are considering. Leave the checkbook home!!! Most really good breeders will put YOU on a waiting list after they have inspected and asked YOU many many questions! Check out rescues for the breed you are interested in, there are many many really good dogs waiting for a chance to go home with someone to start a new life!!!

  3. Way to go, you were scammed and then bought from a breeder. Did you realize how many pure breed dog’s are sitting in shelter’s about to be put down? What do you need papers for? Are you showing the dogs? Breeding (which will just put the death count up higher in the shelters)?

  4. Falls Villager | February 17, 2013 at 12:54 am |

    We almost got taken by the same kind of scam. I had just lost my little dog, and saw an add for a French Bull dog puppy in the Register. As it was supposedly a local it sounded good faith. The language was a bit herky jerky and ackward at times, but the person claimed they were going to do missionary work in Africa for 2 years. The red flags came up when they told me to send $$ for shipping costs (to be fully reimbursed after the puppy arrived safely. They also then claimed to have dropped the puppy off at the shipper, and would need more $ for insurance. to be reimbursed also… So… redflags for people to attend to
    #1 AKC puppy to be FREE, due to an emergency situation in the owner’s life.
    #2 Cost of shipping has to be sent by Fed EX…(this is because they only need the code # and it can be picked up ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD)

    Beyond that the story gets fuzzy in several different incarnations. But be careful even if it’s an add in the paper, not just on line.

  5. Mary Ellen Pennell | February 17, 2013 at 5:39 am |

    Wow, this person offered to tell her story to save others from being scammed and all you could do is judge them because they made a mistake? I’m involved in dog sports and there are many people, including police departments, who buy dogs overseas without ever having seen them. They research their pedigree and may even buy more than one at a time from the same breeder. Just because that’s something you wouldn’t do, please don’t pass judgement on someone who does. Yes, its a shame we have so many dogs in shelters. Who put them there?? There are many people who do not want to guess whether the dog from a shelter has temperament or health issues that may not always be visible until after they are adopted. There are stories of dogs being adopted in shelters that were said to have great temperaments, very friendly, only to find out the dog has aggression issues and/or medical issues. I am sure there are just as many success stories of people adopting from a shelter. Please don’t judge someone because they want buy a puppy from a breeder. There are reputable breeders out there, not all are back yard breeders. Sheesh SMH For the person who got scammed, I’m sorry that happened to you. Hopefully a lesson was learned!

    • You could not have said it better! Altho my current pets have all been adopted and probably all future ones will be also, in the past I did buy a Doberman from a breeder. I felt the best way for me to be certain of temperament was to meet the sire and dam and the home in which he was raised. To this day I am glad that was the route I chose.

  6. We got our poodle from a breeder who we found online. I knew we needed a small dog who doesn’t shed, due to allergies. I researched the breed online and came across a breeder that had posted pictures of each pet. I saw that adorable little face and just fell in love. I was cautious and called them several times to get more information. I had never owned a dog before and was more than a little nervous at first. This was a huge step for us.

    My poodle came on a plane in June, no less–I was very concerned about it. But, do you know what? He just celebrated his 3rd birthday this week. He has been an exceptionally wonderful pet–adorable, healthy, great temperament and very loving to all who visit our house. We even bring him to nursing homes to cheer up the patients. He is universally loved and it has been a great decision for our family.

    The bottom line–if it feels like a scam, it most likely is. But, many breeders who advertise online are reputable and if you are willing to do the research and spend the money, it may be a good decision for your family in terms of temperament and day to day living with your pet. Shelter pets can work out well. too. When in doubt, visiting the breeder is usually a safer way to go. I have been told, however, that many breeders will not let you see the particular puppy you are getting in person.

    It’s easy to judge others. These scammers prey on people who are needy or sad. We have all been in that position at one time or another. Kudos to Tammy and Wendi for alerting others. We took a calculated risk and it worked out well for us. Hope it does for all of you.

  7. Mary Ellen Pennell | March 1, 2013 at 5:39 am |

    I just received this email from a friend asking me if he should purchase this puppy, all he had to do was pay for the shipping. He was sent a really cute picture of an english bulldog. Here is the email and the email address of the seller….

    From: Kendrick Felder
    Date: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 2:07 AM
    Subject: Re: akc English bulldog puppies Available,
    To: Robert

    Hi Robert ,
    Just from your emails i do feel the love and care you will provide for Haily as soon as she arrives there and as i told you all what you will spend in other to have Haily will be just $350 and this money will includes transportation from here to you there is that okay.I am currently living and working here in Spokane Valley,WA, . So we will ship Haily , i can guess what question you have in mind right now, **Flying a Puppy: Is it safe? This question is often asked. We certainly wouldn’t consider it if it wasn’t. I personally asked this question to the man of the shipping company on my first attempt to ship a puppy some couple of years back, and this was his answer to me ***When we book a flight for a puppy it is only on safe, approved Airlines that has pet-safe programs that Follows USDA guidelines. The puppy will have the same air as the pilot flying the plane & someone will be there to care for & look after the puppy on and off the plane. When we go to book a flight for our pets we always call ahead and find the most direct flight available (much as if you were looking for a flight for yourself.) Our puppies have always arrived safe and sound to their new owners, he even went further to say that it is better and more comfortable to fly a puppy on a 2-5 hours flight than drive with that puppy for 6 hours or more***. And that i believe so much because i know they are professionals and will deliver the puppy safely is that okay.So please hope you understand what i have told you in my previous email,All what i want from you is that you provide Haily with much love and care and as i said i want that as soon as you have the $350 sent,Everything should be done and Haily being shipped out without any delay nor waste of time,So right now all what you will rather have to do is that you get back to me with your full delivery address okay so kindly email me now with:

    Full Names.
    House Address.
    Zip Code.
    Phone Number.
    Name Of Airport Closest to you.

    Our Regards to your Family.
    Thanks and Waiting

  8. Jasonpitts | March 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

    I did the same thing and contacted this Kendrick felder he left me a phone number but when I called no answer left message to call me back for more questions but no answer. It is hard to believe a english bulldog could be that cheap when they sell for anywhere between 1300 to 2500$

  9. we were emailing a lady today with this exact same sob story! She said her name is Shelly Dovan from Provo, Utah! I knew it sounded too good to be true! Be careful everyone!

  10. we just had a lady named shelly dovan from Utah try to get us. it started to sound way to good to be true so I started to do some research. took me a while but then I came across this. thank god, we were ready to spend a lot of money to drive a few states away to get them!

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