ENGLEWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) -
A local couple is facing several charges after police say they were deceiving people who were buying puppies online.
Some of those customers reached out to 2 NEWS Investigates weeks ago about their concerns hoping to get something done about it this four-legged fraud.
It’s becoming big business, flipping dogs online. That’s when you buy a dog pretty cheap, turn around and sell for more money.
While that’s not illegal, deceiving the people you sell to is.
And that’s exactly what the Leonard family from Miamisburg says happened to them.
After losing their dog Maggie in December to cancer, the Leonards began the search for a Newfoundland puppy. They wanted a big dog that enjoys the water and would play with their kids.
They found just what they were looking for in January through a website called Hoobly.
“We thought we were getting a great deal!” said Diana Leonard.
This is the ad.
It listed 10 week old Newfoundland Puppies in Englewood. The description indicated they were registered purebreds by the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs. The seller claimed the dogs had vaccinations, talked about the parents and even included several pictures of puppies.
“She was so cute and cuddly.”
So the Leonard family agreed to buy one.
They meet the seller in a Taco Bell parking lot, paid 450 dollars cash and was handed Sadie, their new puppy.
“I was just in love with her right away,” exclaimed Leonard.
But during their first vet visit they got some surprising news.
“He could tell right away from her features and her growth that she wasn’t going to be a Newfoundland,” she said.
2 NEWS Investigates found evidence the seller was deceiving customers.
We took some of the pictures from that ad and looked them up online. Sure enough they showed up other places.
One of them was used in another ad on Hoobly. Another was found on a website called “Gentle Newfoundland Dogs.”
The Leonards believe Sadie is a Schnauzer mix, and they’re angry they were tricked into thinking it was a purebred, which is usually more expensive.
“A little disappointing that we didn’t get what we wanted. We didn’t get what we paid for,” said Leonard. She said while that may be the case, they will be keeping Sadie.
2 NEWS Investigates isn’t the only one investigating. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton and Englewood Police are now searching for more victims.
“I had victims in Michigan, New York, Indiana and several in this area,” said Englewood Police Officer Emily Crist.
Humane Officer Sheila Marquis and Englewood Officer Emily Crist tells 2 NEWS Investigates there are now 11 victims with the same complaint against the same sellers.
They said their investigation determined the two responsible are a male and female in their 20s from Union.
According to reports we obtained, the Montgomery County Prosecutor has approved two felony charges against the couple including theft by deception and telecommunications fraud as well as five counts of falsifying records. Officer Crist said the couple gave fake vet records to some victims.
Humane Officer Marquis said the worst part is seeing victims being deceived, so she has a stern warning for future online customers.
“Keep a paper trail; keep the internet correspondence between yourself and the owner of the dog. Do your homework. Don’t meet them in a parking lot,” she said.
The Humane Society has the following tips to keep you from becoming victim to four legged fraud:
-Know the breed you are looking for and do your homework. You should be informed and knowledgeable on what it looks like.
-Never send money without seeing the animal
-Always ask for vet records if the seller claims they have them.
-Never meet someone in a parking lot.
-Ask to see the animal’s parents and see where they are raised. A reputable breeder will be glad to show you. This also confirms the purity of the breed.
-Never buy a dog that is claimed to be American Kennel Club registered without seeing the paperwork.
-Request references from previous buyers.