Fort Myers couple falls victim to pet scam

FORT MYERS, Fla. A Fort Myers couple fell victim to a type of scam that’s becoming increasingly common.

Jaime Beauseigneur and her boyfriend, Ray Walton, wanted to buy a puppy for Christmas and thought they found the perfect bulldog through an online company called Charley English Bulldog Pups. Within days, they realized they were out nearly $1,600 with no dog.

“His name was Darwin and he was absolutely precious. I think he was one of six. We felt in love, reached out to the company,” Beauseigneur said. “They had a great deal. The price was phenomenal.”

“Feel in love?”

The price was $590, and Walton wired that money to the overseas company through Beauseigneur’s account. The company sent an email the next day saying that another firm would contact them asking for an additional $1,000 for a special crate, a veterinarian’s visit and other costs, Beauseigneur said.

Then she got an email that appeared to come from a company called Boarding Pets International Pet Carriers based in Austin, Texas.

“… You will have to send $990 for both insurance and crate which $940 will be refunded back to you once these puppies arrives there today ok,” the email read.

They sent the money, but no dog ever came. They never heard back from Charley English Bulldog Pups, and their website disappeared.

Once they realized they had been scammed, they were devastated.

Better Business Bureau alerts

The Better Business Bureau serving West Florida has seen four similar cases since Jan. 1, spokesperson Bryan Oglesby said.

“A lot of these scammers, they’re real good at what they do,” Oglesby said. “They create fake websites, copy logos or puppies from other websites.”

Research is key. Oglesby recommends checking to see if the company you’re dealing with is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. And doing some simple online sleuthing helps too, he said.

Search for the company’s name with the word “review,” and run the company’s photo of the pet through an online image search to see if it’s a duplicate from another website.

Finding an AKC-registered breeder

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s the advice of Jean Nagle, an American Kennel Club registered breeder and the President of the Greater Fort Myers Dog Club. Someone recently told her they’d found an AKC-registered puppy on sale for $500.

“That’s really cheap,” Nagle said.

The puppies turned out not to be AKC-registered. The AKC had never even heard of the breeder, Nagle said.

AKC-registered dogs come with registration forms that essentially function as birth certificates. Nagle recommends asking for those, as well as for health records.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan