Manitoba

Online pug ad leaves Winnipeggers caught in canine con

Colleen Garrett and her daughter are warning people after they purchased a pug online and found themselves caught up in a canine con.

Colleen Garrett bought a pug for $900 but when she tried to pick it up the seller was gone

A warning is going around online after people say they were scammed by a person selling pugs online. (Frank Rumpenhorst/AFP/Getty Images)

Colleen Garrett and her daughter are warning people after they purchased a pug online and found themselves caught up in a canine con.

After one of her dogs passed away, Garrett was looking to get another companion.

She loves pugs but they can be hard to find, so she thought she'd hit the jackpot when an ad for pug puppies popped up on the Winnipeg page on Kijiji.

On Dec.15, Garrett contacted the ad poster, who was initially asking $1,000 for the dogs but ended up accepting a $900-offer.

Knowing how online scams can work, Garrett made sure that she arranged to meet the seller and the dog before handing over any money.

The next day, she saw the litter of five adorable five-week-old puppies.

"I just fell in love and she was the runt of the litter and she was so adorable and I held her," Garrett said.

The deposit for the dog was $400 and the seller told Garrett the pug would be weaned from its mother by Jan. 28. Garrett got a receipt and went home, excited for the new member of her family to join the next month.

An ad for the pug was posted on Kijiji in December. (Submitted to CBC)

Just before the little dog was supposed to be picked up, Garrett said she received an email from the seller. It said that the seller's mother had died and asked if Garrett could wait two more days to pick up the pug.

It sounded reasonable, so Garrett waited until Jan. 30 before she excitedly went back to the house she'd been at a month before to take her new dog home.

But nobody answered the door.

Garrett and her husband returned again the next day, thinking there was some explanation because of the funeral, but when they spoke to a neighbour they found out the seller had moved out of the house the month before — just days after Garrett had visited the pug.

"I was really shocked. I was really upset. You pay for something and you don't receive it. And the balance was $500 owing and I had the money to give her," Garrett said.

Colleen Garrett says she just wants to make sure the puppies are okay and no one else is scammed. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

After text messages and phone calls went unanswered, Garrett's daughter Tara stepped in to help her mom. They went online and found another ad offering pug puppies, posted on Kijiji at the end of December, with the same description.

"The ad had said that there was a litter of five and these people were looking for a good home for these puppies and for them to come down and meet, and if things went great they could put down a deposit," Tara Garrett said.

They also found another Kijiji ad that said "pug scam alert." Tara got in contact with that person, and ended up starting a Facebook group for people who had the same experience.

She said there are 21 members who say they have been victims of the same scam, including some from as far away as Alberta and B.C.

"Nobody has heard anything at all and there has been numerous pleas to them and they won't respond," she said.

"Everybody doesn't care about the money anymore. They just want to know about the puppies to make sure that they are in good homes."

Tara Garrett says 21 people who have also fallen for the canine con have contacted her. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Tara Garrett said they also contacted police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Colleen Garrett hasn't bought a different dog; her heart is still with the little black pug she held in December.

"I'm still wondering where that dog is. But now, I just want to know where they are and that they are safe," she said.

"Money isn't an issue. I still want some justice done. She's going to keep doing this and it's not fair on other people."

A number of Winnipeg dog lovers are out hundreds of dollars after they were scammed online. 1:50