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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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is there a way to recoup funds lost by online business asking

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is there a way to recoup funds lost by online business asking for prepaid funds and threatening pet abandonment fines of $6000. I made all the demands and was promised this is the last time...unfortunately i did not feel that i could walk away because i don't know enough about the law to know what they were threatening me with. now in the end they want $850 to set up an account so they can issue me a visa card refund and will not give me my money nor pet until i do and if i don't again i get pet abandonment.

This surely sounds like you're a victim of a pet scam, whether you realize it or not.

Did you agree to purchase or adopt a pet from a foreign country only to find a series of unexpected fees they keep asking you to pay?

Please use the reply tab to let me know.
Hi Kristin,

I have not yet heard from you, but I'm fairly sure that you've been scammed here. This is a very popular fraud, with which Qatar has been associated many times in the past. (See link) Here's how it works, and you will be able to recognize very quickly whether this is what you are dealing with:

Typically, you answer an ad on CraigsList or on some other pet finder site. The ad promises that the pets are of high quality and well and will come with all of their shots and papers. The photo of the pet on the ad, if there is one, is of a champion quality animal. The price of the animal is too good to be true given the quality or the rareness of the animal. And they may even claim it's a free animal and that you'll only have to pay for transport from Qatar. The "sellers" come up with some plausible reason that they are going to give the animal away free or near free and they quote you a transport price. However, instead of sending money to a bona fide transport company you can check out before you pay, you have to wire it by Western Union or MoneyGran to a private individual oversease rather than charge it to your credit card and pay a company.

The advance fee via overseas wire is the tell tale mark of a scam. Wires sent overseas are untraceable, and you should NEVER send money by wire to anyone you have never really met on real time or to any business you haven't personally dealt with many times before. There is NO buyer protection when you send money by wire and once sent the payment is instantaneous and irreversible.

Once you pay the money, they will ask you for more. A typical excuse for money is that the pet turns out not to have quite all of his shots and so gets turned away from the plane. Or the crate that the pet is to be shipped in does not conform to code, so you have to lay out money for a new one. Or they suddenly tell you that you will be required to pay for insurance.

All of these delays will cost you more money, and then there will be even more of them. Finally you will be told that the animal has arrived, but either he is being held by customs authorities, for which you'll be told you will have to wire an agent Western Union to pay for the pet's release, or that the carrier has made a mistake and the pet has somehow ended up in the wrong country or state, where somebody is boarding and feeding that dog until you can arrange for delivery. You will be told that it will cost you money for the maintenance of that dog for every day until it gets to you -- and of course it never does. If you try to walk away, they will claim you are abandoning the pet and threaten legal action.

This "free" pet can cost you a staggering amount of money when all is said and done BUT there is no pet and never was. You are dealing with con artists at a computer somewhere abroad looking to manipulate an animal lover into paying literally thousands of dollars for a "free puppy" (or whatever) that you will never see because it simply doesn't exist.

You need to get off of the merry go round. They can do nothing at all to you as there is no pet you're abandoning. Just cease all contact with them, and report the scam to your local police and to the FBI at IC3. gov. Your only possibility of getting your money back is if the authorities can find these folks and bring them to justice where you can sue them or prosecute them. You can hire a lawyer in Qatar to try to do that now, but they are likely not to really be who, what, or where you think they are, and finding them to sue them or have them prosecuted will be your biggest problem.

Pet scammers can get ugly and threatening, but it's all smoke. Don't let them scare you or intimidate you into wiring more money. THERE IS NO PET. You're not abandoning an animal. Just ignore them. Don't take their calls. As long as you are willing to talk to them, you will never get rid of them because they will keep trying to change your mind. If you ignore them, when they realize you've caught on, they will simply go away.

Should this not sound like what you're going through, use the reply tab below to tell me what has been going on, and I will be happy to amend my answer.
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