What to Know
A Denton woman paid hundreds of dollars for a goldendoodle puppy she saw on a Facebook page. The dog never arrived.
The page looked legitimate, even giving the woman a way to track the dog's location on a website with a United Airlines logo.
The Better Business Bureau offers tips on how to avoid fake online pet sellers.
Six-year-old Maddie Laney has a really strong bond with dogs.
She wanted a pup to call her own.
"I was excited. Told everyone I'm getting this dog," her mom said.
Julia Laney had her eyes set on a goldendoodle, not just for her daughter, but to one day train as a therapy dog for those in need.
But she couldn't find any goldendoodles at the local shelters.
"So, I started looking on Facebook and would just search for goldendoodles," she said.
Laney discovered a Facebook page called "Goldendoodle Pups for Sale," and that's where she saw Ruby.
"The puppy was just so beautiful. He was perfect. I was picturing the dog with my daughter sleeping in her bed and it was like, 'This is perfect,'" Laney said.
In a Facebook message, she was told the company was based out of New York, and shipping to Texas "won't be a problem."
She paid $450 and was sent a link to the airline's website where she could track the shipment.
According to the site, the dog was in transit. But that quickly changed.
"He messages me and says, 'My wife is mad at me because I didn't have you pay more,'" she said.
The seller said he'd been scammed before, and until he received more money to make his wife happy, they were putting the dog on hold.
"I said, 'You can't put the dog on hold. We already agreed to this,'" Laney said.
But she had already promised Maddie that she was getting the dog, so she reluctantly sent another $250.
According to the website, the dog was back in transit and would arrive in six hours.
"I was on my way to the airport and I get a call from someone telling me that the agency is trying to get ahold of me because the sender sent the wrong crate. And now I have to pay $400 for a new crate," Laney said.
"I was like, 'Ugh! This is a scam. I know I'm being scammed now,'" she explained.
With more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, a legitimate looking Facebook page, a professional looking website and a tracking link that appeared to be United Airlines' website, Laney said she was in shock.
"That was a lot of money. That was part of my savings," she said.
Laney said she reported the pages to Facebook weeks ago, but they were still up and running.
"Facebook hasn't shut it down and that makes me really mad," she said. "My daughter, she was most upset. She was really devastated."
A page with a similar name on Facebook, "Goldendoodles for Sale," said it was not affiliated with the alleged scammer or their business practices.
For now, they're finding comfort in the dog they actually have and trying their hardest to forget about the scam.
"I got lied to. No one likes to be lied to," she said. "I was so blinded emotionally for this dog for my daughter that I just kept going."
United Airlines said the tracking website with United's logo was a bogus site. It's working to get it taken down as soon as possible.
NBC 5 Responds also reached out to Facebook three times to ask why the goldendoodle page was still up.
Facebook said it reviewed the page and removed it from Facebook and Instagram for violating its policies.
The alleged scammers told NBC 5 Responds not to call them anymore, and hung up the phone.
It is not uncommon for people to buy dogs online, but it can be extremely risky, especially when paying with cash.
For more tips on how to avoid a puppy scam, click here.