Strangers step up to help scam victim get puppy

Larry Palmer and his new dog Precious. (Courtesy: WOOD)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — After a Vietnam veteran from Michigan lost hundreds of dollars to one of the hottest online scams going on right now, West Michigan residents wanted to help.

Larry Palmer of Kentwood sent nearly $500 to someone with an attractive website who claimed to be selling puppies.

Then the scammers wanted Palmer to pay nearly a thousand dollars more to have the dog shipped.

He didn’t have that kind of money, and the request made him realize that he had been caught up in a straight-up con job. It left him without money to buy a puppy.

When Target 8 investigators first met Palmer, he said he “just wanted a little companion to take care of and be with while I’m going through what rest of life I got.”

When that report aired last month, it moved a dozen strangers to call or email offering to get Palmer a dog.

Palmer got in touch with one of them, a woman named Sue who didn’t want her full name to be used. She helped Palmer find a puppy and paid for it. He knew right away it was the dog for him.

“The lady put her on the couch next to me and she crawled right up into my coat,” Palmer said.

Now Palmer and the teacup Yorkie he named Precious nap together in front of the TV. He is grateful for the people who offered to help.

“I’m so humbled by the fact that she did it,” he said of Sue.

Palmer got Precious from a local seller and saw the dog before he agreed to buy her — exactly what experts say you should do to avoid being lured into an online scam.

Target 8 investigators found that the scammer who got Palmer’s money used pirated puppy pictures on the website and a fake address that turned out to be a vacant lot in a small fishing village called Crisfield on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Police in Crisfield got so many complaints from victims thinking the scammers were actually there that they started their own investigation.

The crooks got their victims to use Western Union money orders that could be picked up anywhere. Detectives traced a number of them to Western Union pick-up places around the Washington D.C. area and say the bad guys collected the money using fake IDs. While somebody in the D.C. area picked up the money, the actual scammers could be running the con over the internet from anywhere in the world.

Back in Kentwood, Palmer is playing with Precious and putting the bad experience behind him, thanks to a stranger who stepped up.

“If I can afford to do it, I’m going to turn around and help somebody else in the same manner because it’s just ridiculous to have somebody do that to you,” he said. “I mean, it hurts all the way through.”

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