By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver woman who owns two Labradoodles — Gipper and Jolene — says she was shocked to recently find her dogs being advertised on a Facebook page.
It suggested her dogs were the mother and father of other Labradoodle pups that were for sale on the page.
“What bothers me is not that my dogs pictures are being used, it’s how brazen and fake this is, and its working on a lot of people,” said Taylor.
Someone notified her that they spotted pictures of Jolene and Gipper on the suspect Facebook page.
When she checked out the page titled “Labradoodle puppies for sale for new homes,” she spotted a photo of her dogs entitled “sire and dam,” suggesting her dogs were being used to breed other puppies.
She quickly realized the Facebook page operators had stolen her photos from her Instagram page then used them for their own purposes.
“I absolutely hate scammers,” said Taylor. As she delved further into the Facebook page and its companion websites, Lodge of Pets and Labradoodle Pups For Sale.
She noticed most of the pictures and videos were taken from the Instagram pages of legitimate Labradoodle owners then re-purposed to make it appear they were for sale.
The Facebook page and website operators are apparently trying to get unsuspecting consumers to wire money as a down payment for dogs they don’t really own.
“I sent them a message. They didn’t respond, just blocked me. All that is fabricated and is a total lie,” said Taylor.
But Randy Buck, a 37-year-old secondary school principal in Pennsylvania, very nearly fell for it.
He told CBS4 he was looking for a Labradoodle puppy to give to his 12-year-old daughter as a Valentine’s Day gift. “I was passionately pursuing a Labradoodle. It was my pet of choice.”
He said he was researching the dogs on Facebook when he stumbled on the page and messaged the operators.
They told him they had a 13-week-old female named “Olga” for $750, about half the cost he found for similar puppies. He said the page operators sent him pictures and videos.
“I was in love with the dog. I found what I liked and was getting a great price. What consumer isn’t over the hill about that?” said Buck.
He was so convinced, he bought a kennel and other supplies for Olga and told his daughter and co-workers about his new puppy. But, when it came time to discuss payment, the supposed breeders wanted him to pay in bitcoin, which raised his suspicions.
He googled their phone number and found numerous “red flags” leading to a difficult realization.
“Those pictures were shoplifted pictures, essentially pictures of someone else’s dog. They were sharp in terms of scamming people,” he said.
Buck did not send any money, but his daughter was heartbroken.
CBS4 contacted “Lodge of Pets” posing as a potential Labradoodle buyer. The website operators sent pictures and videos of a dog they called “Jesika.”
By email, they wrote Jesika was “very adorable and also very intelligent. She is home raised and potty-trained, get along with children and other pets very easily.” They wanted a $400 deposit payment via MoneyGram sent from a CVS pharmacy.
They emailed several videos of “Jesika.”
But the dog they called “Jesika” is really a Labradoodle from Instagram named Toasty. The videos they sent were identical to videos of Toasty on that dog’s Instagram page.
When CBS4 called the website and Facebook page operators noting that videos of “Jesika” were actually videos of ‘Toasty,” the man who answered the phone immediately hung up.
A second call to the website operators resulted in a second hang up. The website operators did not respond to emails from CBS4.
Taylor suggests people interested in buying a Labradoodle puppy should be wary of prices on the internet far lower than prevailing rates. Another red flag, sellers who want to be paid in bitcoin or via MoneyGram.
And finally, it is suggested Googling sellers’ phone numbers. That can lead to other hints and clues on the legitimacy of the seller.
CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.