Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wherein I Feel Like the Biggest Idiot of All Time

So, there are a few rules that every adult should know:

1) Getting married makes breaking up incredibly difficult.

2) Think long and hard before committing to even try getting pregnant.

3) Never WIRE money to someone you don't know personally. Or to any of the other parties that it says clearly at the top of every wire transfer / Moneygram form to not send money to.

I can't believe that at the ripe old age of 39—after years of using the internet frequently (to say the least) and feeling perhaps a tiny bit smug that I had never fallen for a seriously compromising phishing scam or any of the other internet boondoggles that one reads about—I have fallen for such a ridiculously evil scam, that I am ashamed to admit it happened.

The scam involved puppies, for crying out loud. Puppies that looked like this:


Lord help me, LOOK AT THOSE PUPPIES! 

And in the thrill of finding these puppies and thinking that I had the world on a string via my iPhone... I did not carefully go through the emails that I had exchanged with the breeder or google all the parties involved or ask for verification papers to be sent OR ANYTHING. 

In my excitement and squealing and ooh-ing and aaah-ing—I ran to the bank, got out $1300 in cash (you heard me right *my cheeks are burning red just thinking about it*) and then WIRED the money to this person who said she would ship the puppies to me via an airline from Hartford, CT to Lafayette. 

I did it because I trusted the local breeder that gave me this breeder's name, even though I didn't know this breeder personally (!), but I felt I could trust them because they had a website, were less than and hour and a half drive away and seemed to pretty clearly be a legit and reputable source of French Bulldog puppies. 

So what happened? 

I know you want all the gruesome details... Don't bother trying to deny it.

Well, the puppies were supposed to arrive at the Lafayette airport on Saturday morning, but instead of getting puppies, I got an email saying that she was just back from the airport and everything had gone horribly wrong because of a paperwork issue having to do with change of ownership for the puppies. She was going to send the pups just as soon as she could, but she was going to need $750 more to do so. 

[Pause.] 

This was my first moment of thinking, "Oh, shit." I'd heard or seen of something like this before: in a news report about the African scammers who target hapless older people via email solicitations and then get them to wire money so they can share the proceeds of some ridiculously large "unclaimed inheritance." 

I emailed the original, local breeder to ask what the heck was going on and to say that this all seemed extremely unorthodox. This woman wrote me back that she had known the breeder in question for 30 years, had sent many people her way who had all been happy with their French bulldog pups, and even a whole cock & bull story about the woman being elderly and hard of hearing. 

[Oy.]

So then the part comes where I willingly submit to being strung along like a goddammed fish and actually take the time to email back and forth with this horrible, dishonest thief for literally 50 emails. Of course, THANK GOD, I did not wire any more money to this person despite their pleas that 

"i don't want to delay you anymore, i want to speed everything so that you can receive your puppies today, please understand that i will never hurt your beautiful boys that you sent their pictures to me." —Gerald Krise

[Yes, I sent a photo of my boys to show this con-person how excited we were about getting the puppies.] [Yes, I was willing to forgive the broken English.] [Yes, I feel incredibly naive for not noticing until *just this very moment* that there was a spelling mistake in the thief's email address. Groan.]

It was the human touches that made me believe that maybe, just maybe, this really was a borderline demented old lady who was just stuck in her ways and wouldn't let me pay the shipping fee directly to the airline with my credit card, as I had offered, because it "just isn't the way I do things." However, it was the following exchange that made me lose almost all hope. (This first part is me responding to their request to just send $300 more and they would reimburse me after they got their paycheck the following week.)
I'm sorry, I will not wire anymore cash until I have the puppies with me. I have already sent $1300 which you no longer seem to have. I am willing to pay for the shipping via credit card and that is the only way that I will spend more money at this point. You are going to have to try things a different way if you want this deal to work out. :(       —Amy

The puppy-debasing swindler's response:

"They said that you should send the fee to my name and address that there is no problem."


I actually laughed out loud at how ludicrous this response was. 

Before I started crying, I mean. 

After several more emails where I detail firmly that there are only two options left on the table: "One, send the puppies when you have the money. Or, two, refund my $1300." It ended with one last email from them saying they just needed $150 more to ship the puppies immediately. Sigh. So today I decided to level threats at the local breeder and emailed her to say, basically, "Look, you introduced me to this person and now they've apparently stolen my money. Unless you do right by me, I'm taking down both of you on every breeder forum I can post on and you stand a lot more to lose than your friend because you have a much larger internet presence." 

At which point I finally went back to the local breeder's site to look up her phone number... And couldn't find the right name on the site, so I thought I confused it with another Louisiana breeder I had looked at... and then had the bright idea (about four days and $1300 too late) to cross-reference the email addresses with the emails I had been receiving. 

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!

I had gone through all of this thinking that the original email and reference to this other breeder had come from this particular Louisiana-based French bulldog breeder's website. In fact, it did not. It came from some random classified ad-holder on hoobly.com. I still can't remember sending this person an email and there isn't any record of it in my email box, but I must've sent an enquiry to them at some point about a puppy they were advertising. 

And if I had noticed this detail when I first heard back from them, I wouldn't be out so much money and feeling like I lost two adorable puppies that I never really owned. 

So, to sum up this wretched experience, I would advise you to:

1.) Never wire anyone money. 

2.) Don't ever get so excited about buying something that you don't take the time to check over ALL the details.

and 3.) If you ever meet someone named Gerald Krise, who lives at 6 Little Loch Way, Windsor CT 06095—please kick him in the balls for me.

In the end, I guess I have to feel lucky that I didn't get suckered into losing more, but I am so painfully embarrassed that something like this has happened to me. I'm smart, dammit! I'm savvy! 

So, even though I never want to speak of this again and I don't want to read the almost assured-to-arrive nasty comments about how I "should've known better" (yes, I KNOW I SHOULD'VE, thank you very much), and, honestly, I just want to forget the whole thing ever happened—I can't

I want my story to get out there to let other people know that the smartest, most internet-savvy person they know could still be taken in by an internet scam involving something as simple as squee-inducing photos of puppies.

FYI: I'm calling the police in Windsor, CT to report this and hope that these crooks get caught and prosecuted. (I'll post an update when/if anything happens, but I won't be holding my breath for anything to turn up.) The parties involved (or the names given, anyway) were: Eileen Tolson < eileenpuppiesnow@gmail.com > and Gerald Krise < geraldrisepupsnow@hotmail.com >. Search engines, do your work!








55 comments:

  1. I cringed reading this! It could happen to anyone. Damn those ridiculously cute judgement clouding puppies! I'm so sorry. I hope that the police can help you in some way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cringed while it was happening! I still can't believe someone would use puppies to scam people out of their money.

      Delete
    2. Amy......OH. MY. GOD............OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. FML. Well apparently I, another smart/savvy woman, am reading this 4 days and $650 too late. This HAS to be the same shit I just went through.
      I found an add for my dream great dane puppy on petclassifides.us and EILEEN TOLSON responded that she didn't have any puppies left but referred me to ANN STEVENS anntevenspups@hotmail.com, a "breeder" in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
      The whole process is the same......right down to the annoying broken English emails from the weird "hearing impaired" lady and misspelled email address. Im fighting mad and I want to take these people DOWN. I filed a complaint with the FBI on ic3.gov and referenced your article. I would also like to contact the Windsor PD and give them my story as well.

      PLEASE email me at jordikate_66@hotmail.com

      Delete
    3. You just saved me a lot of money and heartache!!! I just got the email from Eileen saying that she was out of puppies but she had a friend in Windsor ct that could help me. These people make me sick.a

      Delete
  2. I will not beat you with the bat of shame,lol...but I honestly do feel bad that this happened to you. It sucks and you obviously had your heart set on them and I can see you really wanted them. It is great message to put out as summer is coming and they get crazier with scams! I do hope you eventually get the pups you want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is an adorable dog out there somewhere for us. Believe me, we will never attempt to buy a puppy unseen again. :-i

      Delete
  3. Oh no. I am sooooo sorry! I hate scammers who do crap like this. My husband is a banker and he deals with people all the time who have been scammed. They are usually SMART and EDUCATED people. It happens. Don't beat yourself up! $1300 is a lot of money to lose but I'd be more heartbroken at losing the probably fictional but real to me puppies. I'm sorry :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ugh, Amy, that sucks. I'm sorry and I hope you get another chance at French Bulldog puppies because DAMN they are cute. Anyone could forget to be careful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right?? I was blinded to commonsense because all I could do was swoon over their adorable little faces and imagine them gamboling around our house!

      Wah! Need puppies NOW!!

      Delete
  5. Is it horrendous that I was kind of thrilled to read this?!?!
    It happened to me TOOOOO!!!
    Cute little kitties, up for adoption because of the horrible person that was supposed to take them.
    They had a fake airport website, a fake drop off location that I phoned to confirm, fake this, fake that.
    I hate them.
    (Sorry bout' your luck though;))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a lot of consolation to be found in commiseration. All the people who have told me about their moments of being scammed have made me feel better, too. It can really happen to anyone. **hug**

      Delete
  6. You poor thing! What's done is done & I hope the crooks get caught! I'm looking forward to the next update. I think you should go & buy some more puppies & when you have them in your arms, you won't care about how much they cost you. Good luck xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm sorry about the money - but even more so for the disappointment your kids must feel. : (
    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So now you know the whole story about why I was so utterly miserable on Mother's Day.

      Delete
  8. Hey, I once invested £30000 into scheme that paid very handsome returns only to find that the scheme was a very well disguised pyramid scam that was offered by a reputable financial advisor who subsequently repaid me £22000 (after I visited him with some of my friends) just before he was arrested and jailed for 12 years.

    Once bitten ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, no! Sorry that happened to you. It sounds like the Bernie Madoff scandal that happened over here... all those smart, successful people with thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions invested with that crook!
      Thank goodness they caught him and you were able to get back most of your money—that was a close call.

      Delete
  9. It happens. You can't beat yourself up over it. BUT you can GET even. You're off to a GOOD start. Do whatever you can to EXPOSE these creeps online and off. I'm worried because they have pictures of your kids. Make sure the police KNOW that too. I hope the cops nail those jerks to the wall when they find them. An example should be made of people who use man's best friend as a con to extort money. GOOD LUCK.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point about the pic of my kids... and, of course, they have my address, too! Yikes.

      Delete
  10. Oh God! I'm so sorry. Puppies and babies - they make us do crazy things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Omg, YES they do. I can't even fathom how devastating emotionally it would be to be the victim of a scam involving an actual human baby. It's hard to believe that humans would think to inflict such misery on each other...

      Delete
  11. Sorry Amy ! Such BS people do that....you were blinded by the puppies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As Tiffany says below in her comment— I was wearing "puppy goggles" and was blinded to all commonsense. Thanks for the kind words.

      Delete
  12. Oh Amy I am sorry that you had to go thru this and it does happen to smart savvy people. But on the positive side. They messed with the wrong person, you because are smart and savvy. And know your way around the Internet to get what happened to you out there. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, babe. I hope everyone treats their online transactions a little more carefully after hearing my story. It's all I have at this point!

      Delete
  13. Ugh! But... if it's any consolation, you're not alone: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/05/15/060515fa_fact Smart people get roped into these schemes all the time. At least take comfort in knowing there are no real puppies in this "Gerald's" care. Hopefully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I sincerely hope that this person does not have dogs. Or any other joy in their life, I guess. ;)

      Delete
  14. If it's any consolation, you're not alone. I used to work for the Texas Attorney General's office, and the investigators in the consumer fraud division had stories to tell. So sorry about the puppies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good to know that I'm not alone and so frustrating to learn that so many people apparently make their living by taking advantage of other people's trust.

      Delete
  15. Cuteness blinds us all. Puppy goggles are worse than beer goggles. So sorry that your mistake has to be a lesson for the rest of us but thanks for sharing it. I hope Gerald Krise gets his balls bit by a bulldog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Puppy goggle!!! Love that... and, yes, they make everything else go all dark and unimportant-like when they are being worn. ;) SO, so, so, *sob* true.

      Delete
  16. I was going to say what marissapayne said - at least gerald isn't really trying to "take care" of puppies, azzhole jerk in CT!

    I'm not far from there, ya know. Would take me maybe 2 hrs to drive. I can be a hired hitter if you need ;) FOR FREE - I'd never ask ya to wire me money!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) You rock, lady. Maybe you could just throw some eggs at the house as you roll by menacingly?

      Delete
  17. Thanks for being brave enough to share this. You may have just spared someone else the pain you've gone through. Here's hoping the police can help you get a little justice, if not your money back. You may also want to alert the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau in Connecticut.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm sorry, Amy. That sucks. Dogs can make us do stupid things. I know this from experience.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I totally know where he lives. Please paypal me $25 and I'll take care of it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Aww, Amy, that sucks.

    May want to contact the FBI. This is considered wire/mail fraud, and over state lines as well.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'd like to undercut Marinka and do it for $20. Plus, I have steel boots that are very effective in landing a solid junk shot!

    P.S. Marinka, you're making it tough for us honest thieves to make a living.

    ReplyDelete
  23. oh Amy, that sounds horrible! I think we should do our own con and invite this thug to a BlogHer conference so he can experience just how much fury a woman scorned can master up, especially when she is backed up by all her bloggy pals.

    I really hope you get your money back, and that you get a cute puppy from a honest breeder soon. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Yes, you're one of the smartest most internet-savvy people I know, but you're also HUMAN. This just goes to show that this bs really can happen to anyone. I'm so sorry Amy. I hope you find other puppies that are equally as adorable, and real.

    ReplyDelete
  25. please understand that i will never hurt your beautiful boys that you sent their pictures to me

    How reassuring.

    Ack! Terrible.

    ReplyDelete
  26. when we were looking for a breeder to buy our english bulldog i was disheartened at how many HUNDREDS of these scam people there are out there. it is truly ridiculous. i emailed back and forth with some of them just for laughs because it was so out of hand and then i cried because i just wanted to buy a dog and why is this so hard? that really blows. i'm sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh honey... I'm so sorry. Not only for the loss of the money and the embarrassment but also because I know that you guys had already fallen in love with them.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Happens to the best of us! I flew a hack film grad to farm & gave him $$ to photograph & film images he never used to build a web site for the film!! Not only did he come into these amazing people's lives, he didn't deliver & had access to my films elements, then fired himself! Fire himself after I paid him due to his dumb retainer fee! Mother %£!?!!ker Trucker!

    Sucks to feel like a chooch! & pay for it.....literally!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh no! Sorry to hear this, Amy, and that you and your family didn't get those little cuties. I hope the authorities can do something.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh holy shit. That is HORRIBLE! People are bastards! If it makes you feel better, one time when I was in charge of the finances for my 10 year high school reunion I sent all of our paypal info to a phishing scam. I realized what I'd done fairly quickly, and got it all changed before we lost any funds, but yeah. It wasn't fun to have almost been the stupid girl who ruined our high school reunion. We all do dumb things occasionally.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am so sorry that happened to you. It SUCKS.

    ReplyDelete
  32. It can happen to anyone, and I think that writing about it and making their information public is a good step to helping someone else maybe avoid this very easy trap. I'm sorry it went the way that it did.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wow. You must have really wanted those puppies. How sad. I feel like buying you some puppies. I crooks not only insulted your bank account, but smack your heart a bit too I'm sure.
    Sorry for your loss.
    sorry there are people that would cause this harm to others.
    big hug,
    DRW

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you. Those puppies will get you every time. Hopefully, your post was cathartic enough that you can let it go now.

    Run this stuff by me next time. I'm jaded enough that I barely believe the true stuff anymore ;)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Now that you've written about it, and published in on your blog, perhaps you can deduct it as a business expense.

    ReplyDelete
  36. You just saved my life. I am so sorry this happened to you but thank you for posting. I just got the email from the same lady to wire her the money. I felt a little unsure so I googled the guys name and it so happens its the same guy and same address as you had and so your blog popped up!!!!!! Grrrrrr I am so angry! Did the police ever do anything because I have numerous emails very similar to yours that I would be willing to show them to bust those horrible people!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. The same thing almost happened to me. I`ve given them my phone number and other contact information, but luckily not my address. Although, I did give them detailed hints of surrounding areas (how stupid). She guilt tripped me with the story that her husband recently passed away, and he was rather fond of her puppies. Because the puppies reminded her of him, she wanted to sell them to a `good home` quickly. Her story was commendable for a scam, but her English was not, considering that she claimed to work in the medical field (doubtful). After a couple short e-mails and texts, it seemed less and less like the women I initially began the conversation with. I was becoming more doubtful so I asked for photos and she did provide photos... photos that looked nothing like the puppies I was interested in - the colours were not even alike (bad move). So I asked for proof of certification and the general health of the parents and she did not supply any information. Rather, she began rushing me to 'order' the puppies: "Mail or femail?" (yes she wrote 'mail') It's depressing that this happens far too often to people everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  38. OMG.. i just fell for it. Lost $750. I didn't think to google this Eileen Tolson (who was the recommending breeder to a' Cristina Gerald'- a supposed 59 year old Christian woman. Mother f'ers.

    DId you ever hear anything from the police?

    ReplyDelete
  39. I am so sorry this happened to you but so thankful you shared your story. I know it sucks but look at it this way, you got scammed ONCE now you know and you won't ever let it happen again. And if it happened to you (clearly a very smart woman) it can (and has) happen to others. Reading through some comments its clear you helped readers not to make the same mistake. And one more thing, karma is a bitch and Eileen will get what she deserves in the end, a one way ticket to hell.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts appreciated. Advice welcome. Douche-baggery scoffed at then deleted.