Two victims or one? Online puppy scam connects two Georgian women

Love can be blind. The love of puppies can be expensive.

That’s because it can also be a scam, with connections pointing right up the Atlanta highway.

“They tricked me,” admitted Andrea Reeves.

The Social Circle woman is the latest victim of a growing internet scam, put on hyperdrive by lonely Americans stranded at home during the pandemic: the puppy scams.

Americans stranded at home during the pandemic have led to an increase in online scams like this one.

Andrea and her husband wanted a Doberman Pinscher puppy but couldn’t find one locally. So the Walton County couple searched online and found Zero.

It was $ 1,200, but only half that week.

It doesn’t matter if the word “puppies” is spelled “puppies” on the website. It doesn’t matter that the coach’s photo is a man when the name given was a woman. Never mind that much of the copy on the website appeared to be written by someone whose first language was not English.

As we mentioned, a puppy’s love can be blind.

Andrea Reeves and her husband took $ 2,279 from their honeymoon savings to pay for a puppy that never existed. She is determined to track down the people who stole their money.

“So $ 680 is what my husband paid from our joint account at the start,” Andrea said.

First.

The next day, Andrea received an email telling her that she needed to make a refundable payment of $ 1,599 for an air-conditioned case in order to ship Zero to Social Circle, as her health was now her legal responsibility.

“I was panicking,” she said. So they drew on their honeymoon savings again and sent more money.

No surprise. Zero never showed up.

So Andrea started to dig. The Cash app the crooks gave her belonged to a woman with an address in Atlanta. It was easy to find Tonia Ottley. His homemade clothing business Epochal Array was on the Cash App account.

Andrea quickly sued her in Fulton County Magistrate’s Court, claiming she asked Ottley for a refund, but “six times she refused, then deleted and blocked me.”

“It’s not really about the money anymore,” she explained. “My goal is to try to prevent someone else from being a victim.”

Would someone be so remiss to use their real name in an online scam?

Tonia Ottley has agreed to meet with Andrea Reeves, victim of a puppy scam, to help him prove his innocence. But the FOX 5 I-Team kept digging.

The FOX 5 I-Team has found Tonia Ottley. She told us that she rarely looks at her Cash App account and only discovered evidence of fraud after alerting her.

She insisted that she was also a victim and agreed to meet Andrea on Zoom.

“It’s crazy,” Tonia told Andrea. “That’s not the person I am. I would never do that to anyone.”

Two years ago FOX 5 I-Team reported similar scam to dogs, people across the country who pay for a dog online and then are told to go to a specific Atlanta address for pickup.

But the owners had no connection with the scam. They had to break the bad news every time an angry stranger knocked on their door.

“It doesn’t matter what we have to do to work together to solve this problem… we have to get tough on these people because I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Tonia told Andrea.

When we pretended to be someone interested in buying a puppy, the same scammers sent us the Cash app owned by Atlanta’s second wife, someone who also works in the adult entertainment industry. She did not respond to our requests for comment.

But the story is not here. Scams always have a twist.

After the Zoom meeting, the FOX 5 I-Team continued to dig.

Tonia told us that she works as a part-time bartender at a local strip club. When we pretended to be a potential customer on this same scam website, the scammers told us to send money to the Cash App account of another woman in Atlanta who is advertising in the industry. adult entertainment.

Next, we found an Instagram page for Tonia called niathestyleguru.

In April 2020, someone complained online about another scammer who told them to send money through Zelle to this address: niathestyleguru@gmail.com

Tonia’s name has also appeared in other fake dog complaints posted on the website. petscams.com.

Tonia declined to speak on Zoom again, but in a follow-up conversation she said she only used niathestyleguru@gmail.com to collect coupons online.

She claimed that someone had apparently hacked into multiple accounts.

“I just don’t buy it,” Andrea said. ” Something is wrong. “

Andrea is now laying criminal charges against Tonia.

Cash App would not specifically address this matter, but the company says its policy is to cooperate fully with all law enforcement requests. This would apparently include all of Tonia’s Cash App transactions.

Cash App offers advice to clients to help prevent them from fall victim to online scams.

If you love puppies, you should read it before you fall in love with another four-legged friend.

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