Florida

Girl’s Desire to Buy Monkey Backfires

Chanel Torres loves her small dog but wanted another pet, a monkey. 

"I was so excited to have one," Chanel said.

She and her mom went online and found an advertisement for marmosets for $300 each.

"When I saw the picture I was like, oh my gosh I do want one!" Chanel said.

Chanel’s mom Daymara Bustillo says she was reluctant to buy the pet but her 10-year old was persistent.

So she sent an email to the alleged seller and was told the marmoset would be sent to her overnight after she sent a $300 Moneygram. She was doubtful but did it for her daughter.

A short time later she says, the alleged seller asked for another $700 to fix some sort of shipping issue.

She refused and asked for a refund but the man stopped answering her.

That's when Bustillo realized she's been scammed and called NBC6 Responds.

We called that alleged seller but he only wanted to communicate via text.

He told NBC6 Responds he had two marmosets for sale but when we started asking questions, he stopped replying.

We ran the picture of the two marmosets Chanel and her mom saw through a Google image search and found the same image appeared in a long list of ads offering marmosets in different languages.

We finally traced the image back to its rightful owner, Michael Poggi, an exotic animal breeder who has a sanctuary here in South Florida.

He even has YouTube videos warning people about scammers.

"Some people are using my photos and my video to get you to send them money," Poggi said in one of his videos.

Poggi told NBC6 Responds that a lot of scammers steal his pictures. He says people should be very careful when dealing with online pet sales.

It's a warning echoed by Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill.

"My advice is if you insist on having some type of exotic animal like that, be able to see it first, to see the breeder, make sure it’s bred in captivity, look at the history of the breeder, other people that have bought animals from that breeder," Magill said. "Don’t ever buy anything blind over the internet because it’s a recipe for disaster."

Magill says he has nothing against exotic animals but doesn’t believe they make the best pets.

"You know there’s an old saying that says you can take an animal out of the wild, you can’t take the wild out of the animal," Magill said.

And that’s why he recommends that heartbroken little girl look for another furry friend.

"We have thousands of incredible dogs and cats in shelters all over our community, looking for a good home, they’re going to give you much more love, affection and satisfaction than any exotic animal ever will," he said.

To own a marmoset in Florida, you need a special license. You should check with Florida Fish and Wildlife before attempting to purchase an exotic animal.

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