FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - The pictures looked irresistible. It was hard not to fall in love with a baby bulldog named Daisy.
"She was a little fat brown and white puppy all those rolls we loved it," said Whitney Henry.
She and her soldier husband found the puppy online at a site called Glenn's Kennels. They'd saved their hard earned cash when Oatis Henry got the call to go serve in Afghanistan. The Henry's looked for puppies from two different parts of the world. They couldn't afford the going rate for bulldogs, around $2,500-3,500 until they found Daisy. She was only $890. She would be a dream for their children.
"We asked for pictures, we asked how many litters she had, we asked for the records ," said Henry.
The seller said he was in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He could ship Daisy the same day. Henry drove two hours to get Daisy from the Springfield Airport.
Daisy never came.
"They tell me she can't fly. She needs insurance; she's only 11-weeks-old," said Henry.
The seller wanted Henry to pay $1,200 more for the insurance.
"They told me she would fly out to Salt Lake City the next day," she said. Now the seller needed another $1,300. "They told me she needed a puppy permit to enter into state of Missouri." The email from the seller says if the Henrys didn't pay it, they could face jail time.
"Definitely can't face jail time because I have three little ones at home and my husband is deployed," said Henry.
She borrowed the money from her brother. The seller told her Daisy was now in customs at the Salt Lake City airport. She called the airport.
"I told her my story and she said you need to call the Better Business Bureau, you've been scammed," she said.
BBB investigator Bill Smith said it was easy to find out the sellers were thieves. He said they'd likely ripped off Daisy's picture somewhere on the internet. He believes they'd sold her many times.
"These people are pretty despicable human beings and they're always out there," he said.
Bulldog breeder and rescuer Diana Engeszer said you really have to know the dog you're buying. You want to meet the breeder, and see the dog. She said there are no bulldog bargains online.
The seller called Henry after the BBB was on to him. She said he admitted stealing her money and told her Americans took advantage of his parents.
"We 'don't deserve to live' is what he said," said Henry.
She's heartbroken and embarrassed. She knows she's lost all of her $3,500. She doesn't think she'll get it back.
"I never thought somebody would do it to a soldier," she said.
Losing the money put the Henrys in a bind. But they said, they'll get by until they can save money again for a real Daisy.
The BBB shut down Glenn's Kennels during our investigation.
Here are some tips on how to avoid getting yourself into a similar situation:
-Avoid puppy scammers. Always check out the business or breeder on BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.
- Check a breeder or shelter's credentials. Ask if the breeder is a member of an American Kennel Club-affiliated club and contact the club to verify membership.
- Well-designed websites can be fake. Scammers will try to make a professional-looking site designed to lure a potential buyer in with cute puppy pictures.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will continually ask for more money for unexpected - and fraudulent – costs, and you may never receive the puppy.
Click here for more tips on buying an English bulldog.