WYOMING, Mich. -- A Michigan man is warning others after his online search for an exotic pet cost him thousands of dollars.
"I needed a monkey. I needed to be different," Don Abrego said.
He wanted a capuchin monkey and found one three weeks ago, supposedly in Hawaii, according to WXMI. However, as soon as his first $400 payment cleared, he said the problems began. The shipper was requesting more money and claimed it was for flight cancellations and vaccination costs. So Abrego shelled out more cash.
"About 20 Amazon gift cards ranging from a hundred to $400 and $500," Abrego said.
He texted his card information to the shipper. Abrego said even the drug store employees voiced their concerns, but he kept going.
"They tried to warn me almost every single time I went to a Walgreens or a CVS, and I bought a gift card. I would say six times out of eight, they were like 'you're being scammed. Whatever you're doing, you're being scammed,'" Abrego explained.
Now he says he’s out thousands of dollars.
"I would say between $4,500 and $5,000," Abrego estimated. There’s still no sign of his new pet, he says.
John Masterson, with the Better Business Bureau said, "What we found and even on a national level is about 80 percent of the sponsored ads online could be fraudulent."
Masterson suggests you go see the pet in person to make sure it's real and in good physical condition.
"Obviously research the organization, the business you're buying from, [and] try to find out who the owner is," Masterson explained.
Abrego did eventually receive photo ID from the shipper, but it expired 10 years ago.
Abrego hopes his story will be a cautionary tale for others.
"I want people to know about it, and I want him to stop," he said.
Abrego said he paid using Western Union, Amazon gift cards and Paypal. He managed to get the original $400 back through Paypal. The BBB suggests you use a credit card so you have an easier time recovering your funds if something goes wrong.