A gang of fraudsters has been jailed after they made millions of dollars from selling sick and dying puppies to unsuspecting members of the public.
The group of six is believed to have made a staggering $4.4 million (£2.5 million) from selling more than 5,000 sickly dogs from houses across West London.
Yesterday, several of the gang members were jailed for their involvement in the sick scheme at Isleworth Crown Court.
Vet Daniel Doherty was handed a 12-month suspended sentence after he knowingly faked vaccination cards in order to help the gang sell the dogs.
The scheme was initially discovered by RSPCA inspector Kirsty Withnall who joined forces with the Metropolitan Police.
They found labradoodles, cavapoos and Yorkshire terriers were often being sold for up to $1,150 each by the fraudsters.
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Ms Withal says many of the dogs had since died, while others were euthanised due to a multitude of health problems.
The dogs were first illegally imported from Ireland before being taken to the defendants’ homes where they were stored in plastic sheds and garages.
“This was a complicated and multi-faceted, high-volume conspiracy whereby the gang has misrepresented commercial, puppy-farmed dogs imported from abroad as family-bred pets to con members of the public out of money,” she said.
Other defendants included Simon O’Donnell, 30, who was sentenced to three years in jail for conspiracy to commit fraud, running a pet shop without a licence, and three animal welfare offences.
Thomas Stokes, 26, was jailed for three years for one conspiracy to commit fraud offence and one animal welfare offence.
Thomas O’Donnell, 29, was handed 100 hours unpaid work and a two-year suspended prison sentence for four fraud offences and three animal welfare offences.
Also convicted were 27-year-old Margaret McDonagh who was handed a 18-month community order for fraud, 28-year-old Mary McDonagh who also received a community order, and 35-year-old Edward Stokes who will be sentenced next month.