AN animal lover was left £247 out of pocket when she became a victim of an online conman.
Debbie Hirst now admits she was naive to fall for the emotive scam and wants to warn others to be wary.
She set her heart on a chihuahua puppy advertised on a “pre-loved” website and made contact with the seller.
He emailed back saying he had to look after his sick mother and couldn’t devote time to the puppy and asked questions to ensure it would go to a good home.
He then suggested the pet should be sent to her in Pellon, Halifax, by freight as he lived in Moray in the north east of Scotland.
Mrs Hirst, 46, later received an email asking her to send £220 cash (plus £27 handling fee) through Western Union to Cameroon.
She expected her pet to be delivered the following day and in anticipation bought puppy toys, a basket, food and collar.
But she then received another email saying another £900 had to be sent for pet security before shipment which would be refundable on delivery.
Mrs Hirst, an admissions clerk at the University of Bradford, became uneasy and refused to send the extra money.
While on her landline to police, the scammer called her mobile and claimed Mrs Hirst would be liable for £10,000 if the extra fee wasn’t paid.
Police told Mrs Hirst she had been scammed and she had lost her £247 and the scammers couldn’t be traced.
The Advertising Standards Authority and West Union fraud squad also said they couldn’t help her.
“All I was focusing on was getting the puppy down to me,” she said.
“I never thought something like this would happen to me and wanted to believe everying to get that puppy to love and care for.”
Mrs Hirst, who has a cat, said if she wanted a dog in future she would go to a dogs’ trust or RSPCA and avoid the internet.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards spokesman David Lodge said it was a classic scam and people should never send unsecured money.