The attorney general’s office announced today a lawsuit against two Arkadelphia men for allegedly pocketing $160,000 in fraudulent sales of non-existent AKC-registered puppies.
According to the release from the office, Helda Berinyuy and Thierry Ekwelle created websites and advertised AKC-registered puppies at discounted prices. They are accused of violating the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The business was discovered when a grocery store manager became suspicious about men making frequent trips to pick up money using Western Union. Benton police investigated and found some $78,000 paid between May 2017 and January 2019. The release said it’s believed the men collected $160,000 from victims.
The attorney general’s office said Berinyuy was arrested in 2019, but the two began operating again with new websites and payment platforms.
After a website became known to consumers as fraudulent, they would take down that particular site and publish a new one in its place to target new animal lovers. Once consumers paid for a puppy, and in order to fleece them further, Defendants posed as representatives from the Little Rock Municipal Airport and told consumers that the airport required another $900 to ship the dog in a specialized crate. Once customers realized this was a scam, they would try to contact Berinyuy and Ekwelle – with no luck.
Clinton National Airport issued warnings about this scam last summer.
Puppy scams proliferated during the pandemic as people bought dogs for home entertainment. Happily, my pandemic pooch was properly delivered by the Internet seller.