LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Five people from the Philadelphia area were arrested for allegedly conspiring to fraudulently purchase puppies to resell for profit, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Friday.
An investigation by the attorney general’s office and the Pennsylvania State Police found that the people allegedly used fake cashier’s checks and counterfeit currency to purchase puppies from breeders in Lancaster County, then sold them through social media platforms, the attorney general’s office said.
The thefts mostly involved high-demand dog breeds including French bulldogs and Yorkshire terriers, according to the attorney general’s office. Some of them sold for up to $20,000, and with over 30 instances of theft, the operation resulted in a loss of more than $430,000 for the dog breeders, the office said.
The people arrested were Tynise Rivers, Sierra Thompson, Amara Dukuly, Tatiyana Cooper-Laylor, and Darnell Lloyd, according to the attorney general’s office, and they were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit theft, theft by deception, and corrupt organizations.
“These individuals exploited the demand for these dogs by not simply being the middlemen, but stealing puppies directly from the dog breeders and inserting themselves into a normally joyful process, in order to line their own pockets. We successfully disrupted this operation, but Pennsylvanians looking to purchase a puppy should stay alert, stay informed, and contact my office if they encounter any suspicious sellers,” Shapiro said in a release.
Shapiro’s office said people looking for a dog should watch out for scams that may include online ads that are too good to be true; puppy delivery in which the buyer is asked to pay for transportation costs via a wire transfer to a third party; or high-pressure sales tactics asking for money to reserve a puppy. Additionally, the office encouraged people to adopt pets locally and visit them in person before buying them.
In Lancaster County, Rivers and Dukuly’s preliminary hearings will be held on Oct. 21, Cooper-Laylor’s preliminary hearing will be held on Nov. 1, and Thompson’s formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 10, the attorney general’s office said.