RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The love between a pet parent and their dog is unconditional. That's why Dawn Livieri-Gagne was devastated when her dog of 15 years died.
"My kids were heartbroken, and my house was lonely without a dog. My kids really wanted a puppy," she said.
So Livieri-Gagne began looking online for a cockapoo puppy. That's when she found the website cutecockapoopuppiesforsale.com, selling the pups for $600.
"Unfortunately none of the rescue places had one around, and the pet stores, they were charging triple that price. So when I saw the website, I jumped at it," said Livieri-Gagne.
Dawn fell in love with a dog named Koby. Over text message, she spoke with the seller, who said his business was based in Richmond.
"I asked if the dog Koby was still available, and he said yes he is. I asked questions about the dog, how old he was," Livieri-Gagne said.
Satisfied with his responses, Livieri-Gagne agreed to purchase the dog, and wired $600 to the seller. He said he would send Koby the following Saturday and even sent Livieri-Gagne tracking information for a "Regional Express" flight from Richmond to Connecticut, where Dawn lives.
"He kept in contact with me all week, making sure I knew that the puppy was coming on Saturday, so I felt comfortable all week," said Livieri-Gagne.
On Saturday is when things started to unravel. The dog never arrived, and now the seller wasn't answering Dawn's texts. That's when she got a message asking her to wire another $770, claiming the dog was being held at the airport in Connecticut.
"I knew then it was a scam, because I called my airport, and they had heard of no such thing," said Livieri-Gagne.
NBC12 called the number listed on cutecockapoopuppiesforsale.com. The man who answered denied operating the website, or knowing anything about Dawn.
The website lists its physical address as 5501 Lakeside Ave, but that address doesn't access either. NBC12 also called "Regional Express," the company that supposedly shipped the dog. No one answered the phone. "Regional Express" lists an address at RIC, but airport officials say they've never heard of the company.
The Better Business Bureau says they are familiar with cutecockapoopuppiesforsale.com and confirms it's a scam. Their advice: don't buy a dog online, unless you can see it - in person - and meet with the breeder.
As for Livieri-Gagne, she said she did reach out to the police, but she wants to spread the word so no one else becomes a victim too.
"I was so taken by the puppy and the excitement of my children," she said. "That I didn't take that two minutes to think."
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