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Wright Woman Loses $800 In Facebook Puppy Scam

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wright woman who thought she was buying a puppy from Colorado and having it delivered to her home ended up losing $800 in a scam.

Campbell County Sheriff Scott Matheny told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the department received a call on Wednesday morning from a woman who reported that someone had stolen money from her through a puppy purchase scam.

The 37-year-old Wright resident told police that she found a woman who said she was in Colorado selling puppies on Facebook. Matheny said the scammer identified herself as Sheena Meyers, although he added that name is likely fictitious.

The victim agreed to pay $600 for the puppy, as well as an additional $100 to have the puppy delivered to her in Wright, since she was unable to travel to pick it up.

“They told the victim they would be using a company called United Pet Emirates to transport the dog to Gillette, and I guess the plan was to fly it up here from Colorado,” Matheny told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “Then the victim got a call from someone representing United Pet Emirates, and said they would need an additional $100 for pet insurance, but if the flight was uneventful, she would get that money back.”

The victim agreed to pay the extra money, now having spent $800 on the puppy.

“Then, the victim gets a message saying they need another $500 to transport the dog in an airport-approved carrier,” Matheny said. “Now, she’s suspicious. She refused to pay.”

The victim was told the puppy would be held in quarantine until she paid the $500 for the “carrier.” She asked for her money back, but was refused.

The woman then called the Campbell County Sheriff’s office.

Matheny said police could not find any evidence of a company called United Pet Emirates, but did find a website warning people of similar puppy scams.

“With the popularity of buying things on Facebook, these types of scams are much more prevalent,” Matheny said. “If you’re buying something online like this, check a person’s seller’s rating and verify if they’re representing an actual company. Find out if there is a way to verify it is a real company.”

While scams have been frequent across the state in recent months, Matheny said the puppy scam was unique to the area and added he could not recall seeing similar cases in recent history.

Gillette Deputy Police Chief Brent Wasson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that while his department had seen a similar puppy scam months ago, it was an isolated and unrelated, incident.

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Wyoming to Receive $500K In Magazine Scam Lawsuit

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming will receive a settlement of $500,000 in a lawsuit alleging two companies targeted customers nationwide by selling overpriced magazine subscriptions using deceptive mailers designed to look like renewal notices for customers’ legitimate existing subscriptions.

Wyoming joined Colorado in this lawsuit against Atlantic Publishers and Publishers Partnership Services and will also receive $500,000 in the settlement.

Both states’ attorney general offices, as well as the Better Business Bureau, received hundreds of complaints, mainly from people over 60, about the mailers.

One customer, a 94-year-old woman, reported to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office that she sent more than $60 to Atlantic Publishers when she received what she thought was a renewal notice for her “Time” magazine subscription, but when she received the real renewal notice the next month, she called the magazine and was told they had not received her payment. 

Colorado filed a lawsuit in November 2019, and Wyoming filed its lawsuit in January of this year. 

The lawsuits stated that from 2016 through 2019, Atlantic Publishers Group and Publishers Partnership Services sent millions of these deceptive mailers to consumers across the country.  

“Overcharging and misleading older consumers into thinking that the mailers were renewal notices  is unconscionable,” said Colorado AG Phil Weiser. “We are pleased that we were able to work with Wyoming to stop this practice that caused financial stress for many consumers and hurt the operations of legitimate  magazine publishers.” 

Because Atlantic Publishers operated out of Colorado, and Publishers Partnership Services operated out of Wyoming, people from across the U.S. filed complaints with the attorneys general offices in both states.

“This settlement highlights the value of interstate coordination,” said Wyoming AG Bridget Hill. “Working together as  equal partners, Colorado and Wyoming have halted and held accountable those whom we allege used our states as home base for misleading consumers nationwide.”  

Under the terms of the joint settlement, the alleged organizers of this scam, Dennis Simpson and John Ackermann, and their companies will pay $500,000 to each of the attorneys general offices to support consumer protection efforts in Colorado and Wyoming.  

They are also banned from operating magazine subscription businesses in both states and from sending the deceptive mailers to Colorado and Wyoming consumers. 

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Rocky Mountain Power Warns of Phone Scams In Casper Area

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Rocky Mountain Power is warning customers in the Casper area to be wary of callers claiming the company is about to disconnect their electricity.

Company spokesman David Eskelsen told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that there has been an uptick in scam phone calls in the Casper area this month where callers pretend to be a staffer from the “Rocky Mountain Power disconnection department.”

Rocky Mountain Power has no “disconnection department.”

“These things come and go in spates,” Eskelsen said. “Around the beginning of the month, we had a number of these calls in the Casper area, and we’ve been getting more reports about the calls again in the last few days.”

The caller will insist the customer is behind on their bill and threatens to disconnect service unless a payment is made immediately.

Lately, the calls have been targeting both business customers and those who do not speak fluent English, Eskelsen said. Some scammers will tell the victim to get a prepaid credit card and share the code with them, while others will ask the customer for credit card information.

One victim was even asked to meet the scammer at a specific location.

Eskelsen noted that the company would never call a customer and threaten immediate disconnection to their service.

“The important thing to remember is that disconnection for any payment problems is a very deliberate process,” he said. “We usually give 30 and 60 days’ notice through a customer’s bill, but we also make substantial attempts to contact a customer. We have a specific dialogue over any kind of payment issues and we offer resources to help customers if they fall behind.”

Eskelsen said anyone receiving such a call should immediately hang up and call the Rocky Mountain Power customer service line, 1-888-221-7070, to find out more information.

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