NEW: State Rep’s Family Warns of Facebook Dog Scam
Thursday, December 13, 2018
After recently losing a family dog, the Nardolillos saw the post for "Lola," an English bulldog puppy, and immediately fell in love. Until they learned it wasn't real.
"It's terrible, it's unreal that there are people like this out there," said Jacqui Nardolillo, wife of outgoing Representative Nardolillo, in an interview with GoLocal.
One Family's Story
"It's such a bizarre thing," said Nardolillo. "I know there are scams out there. I know the 'your loved one is in Europe and needs money' ones. But I never thought of this."
"I found the posting [for Lola] on the marketplace on Facebook, which lists everything for sale in Rhode Island. I thought it was OK, since it was Rhode Island," said Nardolillo. "They gave a good spiel, it was this girl supposedly stationed in North Dakota and has an apartment there and they don't allow dogs -- and she'd gotten this dog as a birthday gift and just wanted to make sure it went to a good home here."
"So I had messaged the girl, I looked on her FB page -- it was a young girl in cap and gown, and looked legit as she had tons of friends," said Nardolillo. "We kept going back and forth. We really wanted the dog -- there were numerous people who posted that they wanted Lola on the post."
Nardolillo said things then went south after the girl, "Veronica," said they could have the dog.
"Then she said, well we won't charge for the dog, but we'd just have to pay for shipping. She said it would be $295," said Nardolillo. "At that point I really had my suspicions. I said have the company call us and we'll go through them."
"So I called the guy, and he sounded strange, he could barely speak English. He said he emailed the directions to my husband, and that the company no longer accepts credit cards, only Western Union. I said this is crazy," said Nardolillo. "He said we have the puppy here, and showed me pics of the dog in the crate. He said it would stay there in the crate unless I paid. I said why would she just drop the puppy off there? I called him up and said this smells."
Pulling the Plug -- and Warning Others
"I sent a message to the girl and asked her to call me, she said can't, I'm at work and can only text," said Nardolillo. "The the 'shipper' started sending me more pictures of the puppy. Then saw that 'MTN' was up top in the photos, where a screengrab would show the phone carrier. It's the national telecom company in Africa. I let him have it. He kept insisting he was here though. And that was the end of it."
"We were just so heartbroken, especially with it being Christmas," said Nardolillo. "I would tell people, if you're looking online, only pursue it if you can see the dog in person. Obviously, there are situations where dogs need to get adopted and need a home, but if you can't see it in person, I wouldn't do it."
Nardolillo said the original post has been taken down, and she thinks that's how the scammers operated.
"They'll just tell people they had too many inquiries, but they just don't want people finding out about them," said Nardolillo.
"I hope nobody else ever has to go through this."