Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Parents make it their mission every holiday season to find great gifts for their kids. But when you're desperate enough, it can be easy to miss some major red flags.
"I wanted to get a fawn pug for my oldest daughter," said Jim Kasalo.
He and his wife Gertrude were looking for what they thought would be the perfect Christmas gift. They're daughter already has a pug, but it's in poor health.
"The pug she has now is dying soon and my daughter would have a big, it would be like a relative died," said Gertrude.
But finding the right dog wasn't easy. In fact, Jim thought he wasn't going to be able to find it.
"I contacted dozens of people and all of the female fawn pugs are gone or very high priced, way out of range," said Jim.
That was until he came across an online classified ad. Jim said he sent the person a text message right away, asking about the dog, "He had said yes, I have a female fawn pug."
He contacted a man by the name of Brain, who sent these pictures of the dog, claiming to be in the Baltimore area.
"Immediately I fell in love and immediately contacted him back and said yes, I'm interested," said Jim.
Brain was asking for $300. Which Jim said was an amazing deal, since other people he had reached out to were asking for as much as $2,400. So Jim moved quickly, wiring Brain $300, plus a $50 shipping fee through MoneyGram. But the day the dog was suppose to fly to Nevada, Jim got some unexpected news.
"I get this text message from the shipping company that the crate it was being sent in, because it was a puppy, it had to have a special crate and it also needed vaccinations," said Jim.
The cost for a special insulated crate, a whopping $930. Plus, he had to pay $157 for vaccinations, for a grand total of $1,087.
"The flight was suppose to leave at noon and so I had to get this money to them before noon or they weren't going to put the dog on the flight," said Jim.
So he rushed to wire them the money as quickly as possible. That night, Jim and his youngest daughter went to McCarran Airport to pick up the dog. That's when he got a call from the shipping company, telling him the puppy had been delayed in South Carolina, because he needed to pay for insurance.
"And I'm thinking the puppy was shipped from Baltimore to South Carolina, it didn't need insurance. Now why all of a sudden does it need insurance now?" said Jim.
It turns out, it was going to cost him another $745 to get the puppy to Las Vegas.
"And then it just clicked. It just all came together like you know, they wanted the money now and I was in a hurry to get this dog because I didn't want it to slip through my fingers," said Jim.
He said he realized there was no dog, and said he had been set up. So he sent Brain this text message, "I want all my money refunded immediately or we'll take legal action. Call me. And obviously there was no phone call, which I didn't expect."
After that, he reached out to Contact 13. We tried getting in touch with Brain, the man selling the pug, but were never able to get him by phone or email. And although it's an embarrassing situation, Jim and Gertrude said they want to warn others.
"I consider myself a pretty intelligent guy. I'm not suckered in too easily. I was just suckered in because I wanted this dog to surprise my daughter," said Jim.
"It's Christmas, it's the perfect timing for someone to overlook something technical," said Gertrude.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: If you can, always try to do business with someone face to face. But if you can't, be sure to do some research on the person or company.
And look for obvious red flags. In this case, the dog was being sold for a price that was too good to be true. And Jim paid the entire amount upfront, instead of negotiating a deposit.
If you think you've been the victim of an online deal gone bad, contact us at email@example.com, and we'll see what we can do to help.