(KRON) — A San Jose couple paid $2,000 to a woman in Texas because they thought they were buying a cute Pomeranian puppy named “Jake.” The problem was, Jake didn’t exist.
The website the couple used was traced to an Africa-based scam that’s victimized dozens of pet lovers across the United States, leading to the arrest of a Texas woman. Elizabeth Montes, 44, of San Antonio, was convicted of felony conspiracy and theft on March 14, 2022. Montes, who faces six months in county jail, will be sentenced on Oct. 11.
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According to a release from the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, the case was cracked by the DA’s Bureau of Investigations Unit. The origins of the scam were traced to Cameroon. Investigators discovered that Montes opened Zelle accounts through various banks and was receiving money from victims of the scam who purchased puppies through the websites skylightpomeranian.com and Trans-Pet Express.
Only they never received their puppies. Bank records showed Montes linked to more than 75 scam victims, according to the DA’s release.
The Santa Clara County victims sent $600 via Zelle to buy Jake, described as a teacup-size Pomeranian on one website. At first, all appeared normal. That is until the couple received another email asking for an additional $1,400 to avoid having the puppy held in 14-day quarantine. When they received a third email, demanding an additional $1,300, they realized they were being scammed and reported it.