Law enforcement investigating alleged Facebook dog adoption scam

LIVINGSTON-An Ascension Parish resident is speaking out after paying a deposit for a dog that may not exist and having potentially falling for a dog adoption scam.

On August 5, 2023, Janine Carlin tells Unfiltered with Kiran that she messaged Peewee’s Chihuahua Rescue to hopefully adopt a new puppy. Peewee’s states it is a “a non-profit rescue group for chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes.” Carlin was excited at the prospect of adopting a new puppy to add to their family because her small dog had just passed away.

Typical Interaction

The conversation between Carlin and Peewee’s seemed to be a typical interaction where someone wants to adopt a puppy. Carlin indicated what kind of puppy she was looking for, and Peewee’s asked for details. Peewee’s even sent photos of various chihuahua puppies to show Carlin what was available and an adoption form.

Eventually, Carlin decided she wanted to adopt a four-month-old female chihuahua. She was told that the adoption fee is $300, which included the first set of puppy shots, first round of heartworm medicine, flea prevention and a goody bag. Carlin asked if she would be able to do a “meet and greet” with her current dogs and the chihuahua puppy.

Hurry… Before Another Deposit is Accepted

That’s when things started to get interesting per Carlin. Peewee’s did not respond to her request to do a “meet and greet,” but rather, told Carlin that “Lots of family are messaging about the pup.” Carlin asked if there were other puppies available. Peewee’s responded that there was a female puppy available.  Peewee’s emphasized that Carlin needed to send the deposit before they accepted a deposit from another family for the four-month-old chihuahua.

In a rush to secure the transaction, Carlin messaged Peewee’s that her family wanted the four-month-old chihuahua. She sent her information for the adoption form to Peewee’s and waited to see the next steps. Peewee’s requested and insisted that Carlin download “Cashapp” to send a $150 deposit. Carlin told Peewee’s that she didn’t have Cashapp and requested to give them the deposit in cash. Peewee’s told her that it is easy to set up a Cashapp account, so she did.

Trouble with Sending the Money

Carlin was finally told that she could set up a “meet and greet” with the dogs after she agreed to pay the deposit. She was told she would be refunded her deposit if the dogs did not get along. Carlin tells UWK that when she tried to send the money via Cashapp, she received an error message that “Your transfer has failed,” which was based on security reasons.

Peewee’s then requested Carlin send the deposit on PayPal. Carlin tried and received another error message, “Sorry we weren’t able to complete your payment at this time. Please try again later.” After this error message, Carlin started to get suspicious of Peewee’s and a possible dog adoption scam. Peewee’s asked Carlin for her Venmo information.

Carlin sent over the information but told Peewee’s she was worried that this may be a scam. Peewee’s denied any allegations that this interaction was a scam. Eventually, Carlin paid a woman on Venmo, who was not the same person she was asked to send money on Facebook messenger. Peewee’s indicated that this woman on Venmo was the “vet doc.”

Other Complaints Online

After sending the money, Carlin felt uneasy about the interaction and searched for online reviews about Peewee’s. She discovered that there were a few individuals who had fallen victim to a similar scam. The victims claimed they sent Peewee’s a deposit that was never returned, and never received the dog they purchased.

Carlin confronted Peewee’s with screenshots of these reviews, to which Peewee’s said, “this is complete lie.” Distraught by the desire to get her puppy, Carlin decided to trust her gut and requested a refund from Peewee’s to be paid Sunday, August 6. On Sunday, Carlin messaged Peewee’s to tell them that she called the police because she did not receive her refund.

Police Investigations Underway

Peewee’s blocked Carlin on Facebook. The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the complaint from Carlin since she lives in Ascension Parish. But since the complaint had to do within Livingston Parish, APSO sent all the information to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office. Carlin tells UWK that the owner of Peewee’s told APSO that she was hacked during this interaction with Carlin.

LPSO says that both Livingston and Ascension Parishes have multiple cases involving this alleged scam. The reports say that alleged scammers are using multiple Venmo/Zelle accounts, and ask their potential victims to send the money via gift cards. Potential victims are told to send money and never receive the animal they paid for. LPSO is working to have the page shut down.

Shaileta Dickey, the daughter of Donna Wilford (who was the founder of Peewee’s), tells UWK that the Peewee’s Facebook Page has been hacked by individual’s from overseas. Dickey believes that these individuals use Peewee’s Facebook Page to convince potential victims to send deposits for a dog. LPSO confirmed it is believed the owner’s Facebook page has been hacked by unknown individuals, potentially overseas.

Protect Yourself from Scammers

Carlin hopes that her dog adoption story can help protect someone else from falling for an elaborate Facebook scam.

If you are suspicious of an alleged business online, contact the Better Business Bureau to report potential scams here.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on any new developments.

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