WJTV News Channel 12 - UPDATE: Dog-training scam continues in the east

UPDATE: Dog-training scam continues in the east

Posted: Updated:
GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Another dog recovered in a massive dog-training scam plaguing the east.

Investigators tracked down the most recently stolen dog in Wilson. Dogs have already been recovered in Craven, Beaufort, Carteret and Pitt counties.

Investigators tell us James Randal Whitten is the man responsible for these stolen dogs.

They say he advertises his dog-training business on websites like craigslist and convinces dog owners to board their dogs with him. He then takes the dogs and disappears.

Whitten was last seen in Tarboro. If you know where he is, call the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office.

--Previous Story--

A man wanted in other states for running dog-training scams appears to be at it again in Eastern North Carolina.

Investigators say he poses as a trainer, steals your money, sells your dogs and then takes off.

"A web of deception and lies describes this case," said Patty Richardson.

She's a private investor at "Private Eyes Inc." based in Greenville.

The alleged scam artist: James Randal Whitten. He's gone by dozens of aliases including "Joey Freeman." That's who South Carolina native, Whitney Walker, thought he was when she dropped her three pit bulls off at his Tarboro home.

"He is undoubtedly doing this to someone else because he makes very good money doing it," Walker said.

Whitten promised to send Walker video updates throughout the course of the training session but Walker became suspicious when Whitten didn't answer his phone.

"When I "googled" his phone number an ad came up for three German Shepherd puppies for sale, and two of them were the same German Shepherd puppies he had shown us that day when we dropped them off and said he was training for somebody else…I thought ‘oh no'" she said.

She tried calling him again but the number was disconnected. When Walker got to Tarboro, Whitten was gone and so were her dogs.

That's where Richardson stepped in.

Through tips, surveillance, microchips and internet research she was able to track all three of Walker's dogs down. Whitten sold them to a man in Washington, who then sold them to families in Craven and Carteret counties. A week later, Richardson found another victim's German Shepherd puppy in Greenville.

"At the same time there was joy in recovering the dogs for their owner, the new owners were heartbroken. That's what made me realize how many victims and how widespread this case is," said Richardson.

Whitten is a convicted sex offender with a long rap sheet, including felony theft and kidnapping. He's wanted in Delaware for running the same scam.

So far, seven victims in North and South Carolina have come forward. Investigators believe he's targeting military and law enforcement families by offering discounts on his privately-run websites and Craigslist.

While Walker's story has a happy ending, countless others are still missing their dogs.

"He hurt us. He's hurt the people that he's sold the dogs to that have made them part of their family now. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure he's behind bars for this," said Walker.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office has warrants out for Whitten's arrest. They also arrested Whitten's sister for lying to police.

If you have been scammed or have any information on Whitten or any of the missing dogs, please call Detective Bryan Corey at the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office, (252)- 641- 7911 or call Patty at Private Eyes (252) - 624-9639.

Detectives say it's a good idea to micro chip your dogs. It will be easier to track them down if they ever get lost or stolen. They also say it's a good idea to spay and neuter your pets. Most of the dogs that were stolen and sold in this scam had not been spayed or neutered yet.

The victims have set up a Facebook and website dedicated to finding Whitten:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/whitney.walker.9083?fref=ts

www.stopdogtrainerscams.com

Private Eyes website:

http://www.prieyes.com/

 

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