Poodle scam story a hoax
Friday Apr 27 13:00 AEST
By Shaun Davies
Police in Japan have denied knowledge of a scam where rich Japanese women who wanted a poodle as a pet were deceived into buying sheep.
English newspaper The Sun reported that Australian sheep had been sold to rich women as poodles by a company in Sapporo, Japan.
The story has since been reported internationally by newspapers and websites in the UK, America, New Zealand and South Africa.
Earlier today it was run on most major news websites in Australia, including ninemsn.
The Sun reported the scam was blown when Japanese movie star Maiko Kawakami complained on an unnamed talk show that her “poodle” was unable to bark or eat pet food.
The newspaper said a police spokesman in Japan had confirmed the company, called “Poodles As Pets”, had been shut down.
But a public relations spokesman for Hokkaido police, whose jurisdiction includes Sapporo, said he had not heard of the scam.
The spokesman refused to elaborate on Kawakami’s comments, as it “was not a police matter”.
Details about Kawakami’s statement also appear to have been misreported. Japanese-language blogs about Kawakami say the movie star actually told a story about a friend who bought a sheep instead of a poodle at a pet shop.
Kawakami told the story on the Fuji Television show Gokigenyou. She said her friend took the “poodle” to a vet, who then asked her, “you think this is a poodle”?
A producer for the Gokigenyou told ninemsn she could not comment on the story’s authenticity, as she was not Maiko Kawakami. But she said she had not heard about the 2000 other people reportedly scammed by the poodle bandits.
Tall stories are common on Japanese talk shows and their authenticity is not carefully checked.
A Tokyo-based entertainment and culture reporter said she had not heard of the story. The story had not been reported in any Japanese newspapers, she said.
The Sun reported that because sheep were rare in Japan, people there were not able to distinguish between a sheep and a poodle.
But sheep have been bred in Sapporo for many years. In 1848, an American farmer named Edwin Dun came to Sapporo to set up a sheep farm.
Near to the hi-tech Sapporo Dome Sports Stadium is a hill called Hitsukigaoka, which means “sheep hill”.
“If you like sheep, this is the place for you,” a travel website says.
Tokyo resident Sakurako Sugata said she had not heard of the story before today. She said she didn’t believe a word of it.
“Buying a sheep instead of a poodle? It’s ridiculous!” Ms Sugata said.
“If you want to keep the sheep and cut it up and eat it, then that would be a good idea, but that story’s just stupid.”
“No-one with any intelligence would buy a sheep instead of a poodle.”
Sounds like a variation of the rat/dog from Mexico Urban legend. Moving thread to hoaxes now