Woman To Repay Families Duped By Service Dog Scam
An Illinois woman has agreed to pay thousands of dollars in restitution after failing to deliver service dogs promised to children with disabilities across the country.
Under a settlement with the Illinois Attorney General, Lea Kaydus will repay more than $5,000 to families who paid for service dogs through her Animals for Autism organization, but never received an animal.
“Animals for Autism turned out to be a heartless scam,” said Lisa Madigan, the state’s attorney general. “The organization targeted parents of children with autism who hoped that adopting a service dog would help their child. But instead of receiving a trained dog to assist their child, these families lost thousands of dollars and worse, had their hopes for their child dashed.”
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Some families were sent photos of dogs they believed were being trained to assist their children, but in fact the animals in the pictures were not ever part of Kaydus’ program and the photos were several years old. In one case, a family received a picture of a puppy that they thought was born in 2011, but in reality the photo was taken in 2007, Madigan said.
In addition to paying restitution, Kaydus agreed to abide by Illinois’ charity and fraud laws as part of the settlement.