Inside the sting operation targeting a man who tried to profit from a missing dog

It was three weeks ago when a beloved dog named Ruffles went missing from her home near Cheltenham Avenue.

When Justice Rescue, a non-profit animal welfare organization, learned of the case, they spoke with Ruffles’ “mother” Erin Lipson and “grandmother” Rhonda Pearson about their missing Affenpinscher. 

The story quickly turned to one man’s demand for money in exchange for information.

So, the group put together a sting operation to catch what they’re calling an extoritionist.

Luring a lost-dog profiteer

Karl Crash is the senior cruelty investigator for Justice Rescue. He uses an alias because of previous death threats. He said that “as soon as we heard that the police were contacted and unable to provide any further assistance…[we] responded on site the following morning.”

Ruffles’ family provided Crash with the tipster’s phone number. To them, the whole “pay me and I’ll tell you what I know” vibe did not sit well.

The animal activists went to the house that was believed to have a lost dog fitting Ruffles description. Then, posing as a family member, Crash called the man and “lured him to the same address where he asked the women to meet him.”

The confrontation

When the man arrived, the team of “Dog Soldiers” confronted him. He agreed to cooperate with the team, and told them where the house was that he claimed Ruffles was being held against her will.

“We set up surveillance on the home and waited for the homeowner to return,” said Crash. “After a few hours the owner arrived … and was questioned about his involvement and knowledge of where Ruffles may be.”

The man eventually showed them a dog fitting Ruffles description, however, this dog did not have Ruffles markings.

Maybe the guy thought he saw a missing dog from a poster, but more likely, the activists and family think, he knew a dog that looked like Ruffles and tried to make a quick buck.

On the more than 200 flyers posted in areas near where Ruffles went missing, including East Oak Lane and along Cheltenham Avenue, a generous reward is mentioned. So, this was not the only money-grab call Ruffles family has gotten.

“We even traveled outside of the selected area and posted our reward flyers at every major supermarket, restaurant and gas station in an effort to expose Ruffles’ plight with a greater number of people,” Crash said. The group will “be available to conduct further investigation on any new information provided to us that will help find Ruffles.”

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