PORTLAND -- Toni McMichael's toy poodle suffered a fatal heart attack a week ago Sunday.
“I lost my Cocoa less than a week ago and now I’ve lost more than $300.00,” said McMichael.
After Cocoa's passing, she started looking online for a replacement and found a darling little teacup poodle for sale by a woman who said she lived in Seattle.
Using a legitimate pet shipper's name, the seller was able to convince McMichael to use Western Union to wire around $350 to pay for a female teacup poodle, and flying the pooch from Seattle to her door.
“I’ve bought dogs on-line before from Missouri and paid through Western Union and everything worked out fine, so my guard was down," McMichael said.
The first tip off was when she saw the money she sent actually went to the nation of Cameroon, not to Seattle. The seller said it was an international shipper with corporate offices in Africa.
But an hour after her teacup was supposed to arrive on Friday she got another e-mail from the seller. It wasn’t from SeaTac International but Tacoma International Airport saying her dog’s vaccination hadn't taken and she had to pay for another round along with an approved crate.
Attached to the e-mail were pictures of the vaccines.
McMichael said, “They were general drugs that had nothing to do with shipping a dog and I know they don’t check to see if vaccines take,"McMichael said. "Excuse me a vaccine's a vaccine. You don't test to see if it took, no this is a rip off.”
She said the crate was a poor picture of the cheapest one you could buy at Walmart. “That’s when I knew I’d been scammed. I had no puppy and I’d been scammed.”
McMichael said she called the FBI and they told her there was nothing they could do and she probably will never see her money again.
When asked why she wanted to share her story with KGW, McMichael started sobbing.
“Because I want to warn people that these people are out there. There's really nothing out there to let people know until it's too late.”