A young boy with cancer was left heartbroken after a callous fraudster stole hundreds of pounds he had saved up to buy his dream dog.
Brave Billy Green, 11, was left devastated after a con artist put a fake dog up for adoption and disappeared with £250 his family had paid as a deposit.
Kind strangers, who followed Billy’s leukaemia journey, had donated the money which he said he wanted to pour into getting a tiny dachshund puppy.
He spotted a one-week-old puppy on a pet adoption website and said it was “love at first sight”.
The little lad has been stuck in hospital for two months after going into remission for a second time since his first cancer diagnosis five years ago.
But he said the prospect of returning home to his “dream dog” helped him through the difficult and tedious treatment.
He spent each day carefully picking clothes, toys, and leads for his pooch he fondly named Prince, as he’d be “spoiled like one”.
But the family realised they had been conned after inquisitive Billy spotted his puppy on YouTube while he was watching dachshund videos in bed.
Heartbreakingly, the seller had disappeared without a trace and with all of the money.
Billy, from Wakefield, West Yorks., said: “I have always wanted a dachshund because they’re so cute – and I’m quite small so I’d be able to take care of him because they’re small too.
“It’s quite dull in the hospital all day so it really lifted my mood to buy him clothes and toys – it helps me get through the treatment.
“I want to call him Prince because he’ll be spoiled like one – and he’ll be my best friend.
“When I saw him it was love at first sight, I knew I’d love him more than anything else.
“It’s been frustrating being stuck at the hospital for so long.
“But it helps to pass the time because I know I will have a dog.
“I’ve been buying him a lot of clothes and toys and I can’t wait to hug him.”
The boy had found the dachshund on the website Pets4Homes and excited mum Lisa immediately rang the breeder to arrange the adoption.
The scammer asked for a deposit of £250 with the rest payable later, but after they had transferred the money he stopped answering their phone calls.
The family called the police after Billy saw the video of his pooch on YouTube, and they were referred to the fraud department.
They were told to call the bank who told them they “hadn’t done enough to avoid the fraud” to be eligible for a refund.
She says she was left heartbroken when she realised they’d been scammed as Billy’s face lit up when he saw the dog and he’d been counting the sleeps until they’d be together.
The mum-of-two said: “Billy was over the moon, he couldn’t believe he was getting his own dog.
“It was perfect timing really, we would have had the dog just in time for Billy to be home.
“But unfortunately we realised we’d been scammed.
“He amazes me, he’s so mature and he just gets on with it.
“I remember when he was first diagnosed we kept asking the doctors if they’d gotten it wrong. I couldn’t believe it.
“Even now, we don’t know what the future holds for Billy but he takes it day by day – he’s such a brave boy.
“As a parent all you want is to make your child happy, that’s all you want.
“If you saw his face when he first looked at that puppy, I couldn’t believe we were going to break his heart.
“He really deserves it. Every child on that ward with my boy deserves the world.”
Billy was diagnosed with cancer in November 2012, just weeks before his fourth birthday.
The devastating news only got worse after they thought he’d successfully undergone intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
But Billy relapsed a couple of months later and needed a bone marrow transplant from his younger sister.
Five years later, after complaining about excruciating pain in his knee, Billy was once again in hospital and the family’s worst nightmares came true – his cancer had returned.
The brave lad has since gone through ten intensive rounds of chemotherapy, had another bone marrow transplant and gone through a dozen sessions of radiotherapy, lumbar punctures, and blood transfusions.
At one stage Billy was taking up to 22 medications a day.
He has been stuck at Leeds General Infirmary for two months but his mum Lisa says she has been “so proud” of her young lad for keeping his spirits up.
The support officer added: “Billy has gone through so much in his young love, and he’s gone through enough.
“It broke my heart when I had to tell him we might not get the dog because of the scam.
“People were so kind to us and donated their money and it was just so upsetting.
“He was so excited and overjoyed about the dog and he’d been such a hero through everything he’s been through.
“He’s been counting the sleeps until he’s going to have his dog.
“I just wanted to give him this one thing. It broke my heart.”
But thankfully a kind dog breeder got in touch with the family and offered Billy a new furry best pal in September.
Axel Lagercrantz, CEO of Pets4Homes, said: “I am incredibly sad to hear that Billy was scammed to send a deposit. It is saddening to hear any story where fraudsters take advantage of a person’s desire to rehome a pet and especially a young boy.
“While we do understand the eagerness to send deposits in order to reserve the dream pet, we strongly advise against sending any money until the buyer has confirmed that the seller is genuine.
“Fraudsters will typically decline physical viewings citing travelling restrictions as a result of COVID; however, in this case we recommend having the viewing electronically over a video call.
“At Pets4Homes, the safety of our seven million monthly users and the thousands of pets that find a new home through our platform will always be our highest priority.
“Our team of support staff works around the clock, seven days a week to monitor the website. We also work closely together with our partners at the RSPCA, the PAAG and local councils in order to safeguard the welfare of animals rehomed.
“For anyone considering adopting or rehoming a pet, we recommend consulting the advice section on our website, and the thorough checklist that we urge every pet buyer to follow. If a person wants to report an advert on Pets4Homes, our around the clock staff is available to offer support.”
You can donate to Billy’s cause here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lisa-green-764?utm_id=107&fbclid=IwAR2ft8Ry3zwxEbJhbXqbCERplGMnIqGZ2nXtwRa7eK330UzyubuTupPMlZ4