Cute Puppies Being Used to Scam People Out of Money (don’t be a victim!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

LOS ANGELESThe Council of Better Business Bureaus and American Kennel Club are warning that cute puppies are being used to scam people out of money.

Fraudulent Web sites, MySpace postings and print ads are asking people to help save puppies in desperate straits by sending money overseas, The Los Angeles Times reports.

“It’s like the Nigerian advance-fee scams we’ve been seeing for years, except with the face of a puppy,” Steve Cox, a council vice president, told the newspaper.

The sites and ads usually show bulldog puppies that are said to have become stuck in Nigeria, Cameroon or other countries and are offered free to new owners. A variation offers the expensive purebred English bulldogs at vastly discounted prices, the Times reports.

Victims eventually were asked to send hundreds of dollars to cover expenses such as shipping, customs, taxes and inoculations.

Some reported paying more than $1,500. But no matter how much was paid, no puppies arrived, the Times reports. And even the pictures of the pooches likely are fraudulent. In the last couple of months, local business bureaus across the country increasingly have been getting complaints, Cox said.

In Ohio, Kim McDonald and her son chose an English bulldog online, sent e-mails inquiring about the pooch, and received messages that the dogs were in Nigeria, the Times reported. They chose a puppy named Emma that was being offered for free. McDonald sent $350 to cover all costs, including shipping. She later received an e-mail asking for $200 more for customs fees to clear the puppy through London.

She called the breeder, who told her that operation didn’t handle English bulldogs at all. McDonald then e-mailed the “agent” in Nigeria asking for her money back. But there was no reply.

“We had gotten so excited about this little puppy that was coming,” she told the Times. “We were so sad.”

Woman Who Posed As Boy Pleads Guilty

Published: May 10, 2007

Filed at 11:30 a.m. ET

“I know there are sick people out there but reality never sets in until reading articles like this.”

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A woman who posed as an homeless orphaned boy, befriended a teenage girl and was taken into her family’s home has pleaded guilty to child molestation.

Prosecutors say they would seek the maximum one-year jail term for Lorelei J. Corpuz, 30, who entered her plea Wednesday. Charges of third-degree child rape were dropped last month.

Authorities said Corpuz, who cropped her hair and stands 5-foot-3, passed herself off as 17-year-old Mark Villanueva after meeting the girl at a mall in September 2005. Her parents, immigrants who speak little English, later let Corpuz live at their home.

The deception became known after a traffic stop led to Corpuz’s arrest on an unrelated warrant. The girl was in the car and told police that Corpuz was her boyfriend, according to documents filed in court.

Although Corpuz had sexual contact with the girl, ”the suspect never let victim see her/his private parts and victim always thought that suspect was male until officer informed her otherwise,” Police Officer Don de Nevens wrote. The girl also said Corpuz beat her and bit her twice on the back, leaving a scar.

The girl and her family were not in court Wednesday. Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roe said they were relieved by the outcome of the case, which drew wide attention.

”They just want to be left alone. Being a victim of a felony sex offense should not turn you into a sideshow,” Roe said.

Sentencing was set for June 18.

After serving her sentence, Corpuz must register as a sex offender, and she remains under investigation for fraud and other sex offenses, including accusations in Kitsap County that closely resemble the Everett case, authorities said.

In that case, detectives looked into whether Corpuz had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old Bremerton girl three years ago.

That girl gave a nearly identical account of what happened in Everett — someone posing as an orphan named Mark and being allowed to move into her home, Deputy Scott Wilson said.

Information source: The New York Times