HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -
A Texas man contacted NBC12 after he was the victim of an online pet scam with a local connection.
If you were in the market for a cat, the pictures of a Havana Brown kitten just might melt your heart. She's supposedly 100 percent purebred. Plus, she's said to be house and potty trained. Robert Parkhill of Abilene, Texas thought she was perfect.
He says he saw the ad on a website called kittensforadoption.us. The cat's owner was here in Richmond, but not to worry, the ad said the animal could be shipped. It all sounded good but Parkhill quickly found out this was all a sham. By the time he realized it, he'd already loaded $300 on a prepaid card and sent it the supposed owner. Red flags went up when the price of the pet jumped from $300 to over $900.
Parkhill contacted NBC12 because of a Richmond address and wanted us to warn others. We took the pictures and emails to Robin Starr with the Richmond SPCA. "In addition to risking losing your own money, internet purchases of a pet, encourage puppy mills because no responsible shelter and no responsible breeder would ever send you a pet through shipping from an internet sale," she said.
Starr said outside of the glaring grammatical errors in the emails sent to Parkhill, warning signs went up when she went to the website where the ad was placed. "There were a lot of things that were obvious, such as it pretends to have a picture of the pet but if you look carefully, a number of the different pets have the same picture," Starr explains.
On the website, there is no phone number or address to contact anyone. Clicking on the "Contact Us" button results in an error message. As a service to our readers, NBC12 won't link to the site.
Researching the postal address listed in the ad turned up a home in Henrico County located on Brookside Boulevard. In an e-mail reply, a family representative said the family is aware their address is being misused to deceive pet lovers. In fact, they say several people have showed up looking for animals, some from as far away as Maryland.
The family said it reached out to police, but were told no crime was committed and nothing could be done. They are just thankful none of the people showing up to their door were hostile after learning there was no animal and they had been duped.
"Sometimes there is no animal at all, and it is just a scam to get your money," said Starr. Warning against the dangers of adopting pets online, Starr said, "There is and abundance of wonderful sweet, well behaved animals that are in need of good homes and there is no reason to go anywhere else to acquire a pet but your local animal shelter."
If you do buy a pet, make sure you see it in person and checkout its living conditions. Also, never wire money through Western Union or use a prepaid card to pay for a pet.
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