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Local animal rescue group loses thousands of dollars to possible scam

Posted at 7:19 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 19:19:37-05

The voiceless victims of Hurricane Maria may now be the latest scam victims.

Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue posted on Facebook, claiming the man who offered to help charter their next relief flight to Puerto Rico was a fake.

The rescue said he stole more than $4,000 that was going to help pay for the trip.

However, other rescue groups are stepping in to help.

This kind of fraud infuriates Lauree Simmons president of Big Dog Ranch Rescue,
who along with several other area rescue groups, has been also chartering flights to Puerto Rico.

“It's just heartbreaking to know that people are so cruel,” said Simmons.

In fact, Simmons says they were approached by the same person.

However, after some digging and hearing about Justin Bartlett's canceled flights, she quickly realized it was likely a con.

“Be careful who your donating to. Do background checks. Make sure the organization is really legit and they're really doing the work."

Simmons said her group had to help. They’re making sure Justin Bartlett’s animals don’t get left behind.

Some of the animals will be on the flight arriving in Fort Pierce on Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office confirmed they are investigating the fraud complaint.

Simmons says this is their 7th flight and they have rescued more than 500 animals.

However, she says they are still in need of donations. You can find the ling to donate on their website