MELBOURNE, Fla. – It started with a pandemic puppy. “I was looking for a Yorkie at first,” Sherri Morris said. “That is where I came into trouble.”
Morris believes the puppy was not up for sale, but up for bait.
Morris, who lives in Melbourne, lost hundreds of dollars after falling prey to a puppy scheme last year. After reaching out to News 6 to warn others, Morris thought her part of the story was over until a picture of Morris’s Veteran’s Affairs identification card showed up in a Michigan woman’s text messages.
“I thought, ‘Where did [she] get this,’ Morris said with a laugh. “That is crazy.”
Sarah LaFoe, of Michigan, is an 18-year-old collegiate swimmer who was also, earlier this month, looking for a puppy.
LaFoe told News 6, from a Zoom interview, she was looking for a Maltese puppy.
LaFoe went to Craigslist and met a seller claiming to be Sherri Morris. The seller even sent a photo of the real Sherri Morris’s Veteran’s Affairs identification card to help convince LaFoe.
“I usually try to see the best in people, so when she kept saying, ‘My word is my bond’, and, ‘why would I lie to you’, I trusted that and did not end up looking into it further,” LaFoe said.
Just like the real Sherri Morris in Melbourne, LaFoe in Michigan sent hundreds of dollars to the Craigslist seller, but she says no Maltese puppy was delivered.
And LaFoe may have let it go if it had not been for the News 6 story.
“My mom actually put it together,” LaFoe said. “She was looking up different occasions that this has happened to other people, and then your story came up, which was really crazy.”
Morris said she never sent a copy of her ID card to the previous puppy schemers, and she is not sure how they acquired it, but both Morris and LaFoe think the Melbourne woman’s identity is now being used to help scam others.
It is a theory that officials with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) believe is not too far out of reach.
“Unfortunately, that is an all too common occurrence,” said Holly Salmons, the President of the BBB of Central Florida. “Once scammers figure out that you are a good mark or that you are a real person, once they verify your information they may turn around and sell it to other scammers.”
News 6 investigators reached out to the 605-number claiming to be Sherri Morris with the Maltese puppies for sale. Reporters also emailed the seller through several emails associated with their accounts.
No one responded to our request for an interview or with a response about the allegations.
Now that LaFoe in Michigan has been roped into this scam, Salmons says LaFoe must watch out for possible red flags to come.
“Those could be hits to your credit, strange emails coming from, our bouncing from your email account,” Salmons warns. “Make sure you are monitoring your statements. Also, change your passwords.”
Morris hopes this is the second and final chapter of this story.
Think you’ve been victimized by scammers? Check out the BBB’s tips on identity theft. Also, you can track scams reported to BBB’s across the nation here, using the BBB’s Scam Tracker.