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By Tom Mustin

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a new scam involving puppies for sale.

Bogus websites show pictures of puppies offered for a great discount. After several emails with the prospective buyer, the company hits the victim with a series of fees before delivery.

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(credit: CBS)

The catch?

There is no dog.

Mary doesn’t want to be identified after being scammed out of $450.

“It was disheartening,” she told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.

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“Mary” (credit: CBS)

Mary is one of several people in Douglas County taken in by the new “puppy scam.”

“We wanted a puppy for our 10-year-old granddaughter,” she said.

A month ago, the Highland Ranch woman thought she had bought a 14-week-old puppy named Leo. She saw the pup’s picture on a bogus site called “Elegant Goldens,” supposedly out of Montana.

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(credit: CBS)

After several emails, her contact told Mary he had a special deal for her.

“He said instead of selling the puppies, he was giving away the puppies to a good home because his wife was ill.”

The man asked for a $450 charge to ship Leo. Mary wired the money, then received another email.

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(credit: CBS)

“They couldn’t send the puppy. Their vet had looked at it and said the puppy was fragile and needed a special crate for $850,” Mary said.

She called the bogus breeder, who told her the $850 was refundable when the puppy was delivered. She wired the money then started doing some digging. She found the company on several scam sites.

“The fact that the emails were poorly written should have been a red flag, but I just thought somebody was not educated very well.”

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(credit: CBS)

Mary canceled her wire transfer and called the sheriff’s office. She found out she was not alone.

“You hear about it but never think it’ll happen to you. I thought I had done enough due diligence,” she told Mustin.

Now, with a new real puppy, Mary has some advice after her $450 lesson.

“When it sounds too good, it usually is.”

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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