Denver, CO

Scammers dupe Denver victims in bogus pygmy goat scheme

David Heitz

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Erik-Jan Leusink

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Denver police warn residents about an online scam where people posing as goat breeders lure buyers into purchasing the animals sight unseen. The scammers then ask for more and more money and claim the expenses are part of the goat ownership transition process.

At least one household fell victim to the ruse.

"On June 1, 2022, victims walked into the District 4 Station to file a fraud report," Denver police posted on Facebook. The department posts scam warnings every Saturday.

"The victims explained that a week earlier, they responded to an ad online for a pygmy goat," the Facebook post continued. "Through some email exchanges with the suspect, the victims agreed to buy a goat for $300 and pay for the shipping of the goat, which was an additional $190."

But it didn't stop there. The perpetrators asked the buyers to send the money electronically. They told their victims they could use gift cards to pay the mounting fees.

Gift cards always a red flag

Denver police say if someone offers to accept gift cards as payment, you've run into fraud. Another common tactic faux animal breeders use is asking their victims to pay for a special box to ship the animal.

The scammers asked the Denver victims to pay $950 for a container, according to the police department's Facebook post.

"Using the same digital payment network, the victims sent the suspect the $950. After this, the suspect asked for an additional $850 to have the goat examined by a vet and $1500 for life insurance for the goat, which the victims paid for by providing the suspect with gift card redemption codes."

Special containers a common request

The deception continued. Next, the perpetrators said they needed $5,000 for a permit to transport the goat. The victims refused because they had previously paid for the permit.

"When the victims arrived at the airport to pick up the goat, it had not been delivered," police explained. "The victims contacted the suspect, who said they would not send the goat until all the fees were paid. It was at this point that the victims realized they had been scammed."

Facebook commenters express little sympathy

Commenters on the post expressed little sympathy for the victims. Some recommended locations in Denver where the buyers could purchase pygmy goats.

Others said a similar scam offers miniature Scottish cattle for sale. Police say scammers also trick potential buyers with similar scams involving dogs.

"What kind of person buys a goat online without even meeting it and interacting with it first?" Jolee Mann commented. "These people are not ready to have goats. Plus, you cannot have just one goat. They are social and need another goat friend."

Heather Nicole questioned the believability of the story. "They paid almost 4k for a GOAT and didn't realize they were being scammed until they were at the airport?"

Regan Benson was even more unforgiving. "Geezus people, c'mon, you can buy a Pygmy goat less than a 30-minute drive down the road and put it in your car. Even an Uber driver would get you there and back for way cheaper with the goat in your lap."

Legal to keep up to two goats in Denver

Under Denver's municipal code, residents with a $25 special permit can keep up to two goats.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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