Mumbai Crime: Dog-loving TV producer swindled in online pup adoption scam
Adopting a sought-after prized Maltese pup for his girlfriend robbed Mumbai-based TV producer Pranay Naithani of Rs 26,500 before he realised he had become victim of an online dog adoption racket
Thinking of adopting a puppy online? You might want to read this first. A Mumbai-based television assistant producer's plans to gift a puppy to his girlfriend went haywire after he fell prey to an online scam. While the pooch never got delivered, he lost over Rs 26,500 in the bargain. He later learnt that several others had been duped in a similar fashion.
Pranay Naithani, who works with Balaji Telefilms Limited, had been searching adoption sites when he spotted an advertisement by a Lucknow-based NRI couple, Kreisten Lopez and Golovin Prashant, who were looking for someone to adopt a Maltese puppy they owned. “I approached them through the website. I then received a call from them and they shared a few photos of the dog,” Naithani told mid-day about the pet that caught his fancy.
When Naithani finally decided to adopt the pup, the couple told him that he would have to pay R6,000 to transport the pet from Lucknow to Mumbai. “I immediately sent the money through an online transfer,” he said.
The couple assured Naithani that the pup would be delivered to him on March 25, sharing details of the Jet Airways flight on which the pup was to travel. However, a day before the flight was scheduled, Naithani received another email from the couple telling him that the dog would require a better crate and insurance for travelling by flight.
They said that Happy Tails Travel, a pet relocation company, would be handling the door-step delivery and an amount of R10,500 would have to be paid to the firm for the service. Of this, R10,100 would be refunded to Naithani after the pet was delivered.
Pranay Naithani wanted to gift the pup (top) to Purnima Ramnath
Again, an unsuspecting Naithani transferred this second amount to the couple, he received a third mail that stated that the pup was being shipped on a 5.30 pm flight that same day (March 25). But there was a rider -- the dog had fallen ill and an in-house staff of the Happy Tails would treat him for which Naithani had to make a payment of R17,500 to the firm. This included the cost of rabies and deworm injections and a micro chip for the pet. They told him that R16,625 would be refunded to him. However, Naithani could only make a payment of R10,000 due to online banking transfer limits to which the couple assured him that the pup would be delivered to him once he paid the entire amount.
On March 26, Naithani decided to directly contact Happy Tails but Prashant was reluctant to share the contact before the remainder payment was made. “I sensed something was fishy and visited the Happy Tails Travel website. Here, I read about similar pet scams and realised that I had been conned,” Naithani said.
The dog lover filed a written complaint with the Amboli police station and the cyber crime police station at BKC.
“We are investigating the case,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
The Maltese pup belongs to the toy group of dogs, characterised by its long silky, white coat, and has its origins in the Central Mediterranean region. It's known to be cheery. It's an ancient breed and is considered an aristocrat of the canine world.
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