The ad for a puppy had appeared on Craig’s List. Steven Collins, 51, saw it and decided to buy two of the puppies for $400 each. He met with the seller, Carissa Sarno, paid her $800, and arranged with Sanders for a pick-up on Oct. 5. Collins’s wife would drive to a designated location. When she did, Sarno didn’t show up. When Collins’s wife went to Sarno’s home, at 55 Village Drive in Flagler Beach, the place was vacant.
The next day, a Flagler Beach Police Department detective took Collins’s complaint–and four more almost identically like it, from residents in Flagler Beach and in other counties. Three had been taken for $200 each, a fourth had been taken for $600 after agreeing to buy two puppies.
They all provided text messages, emails and screen shots of the same Craig’s List ad, along with receipts written and signed by Sarno. They each identified Sarno from a picture lineup. At least two additional alleged victims have come forth since.
Sarno, 34, is a felon who, when she was living in Pinellas County in 2015, was sentenced to three years in state prison for grand theft, exploitation of the elderly or the disabled, and organized fraud. She served almost two years of her sentence and was released on April 1, 2019.
On Wednesday, Sarno was charged with two felony counts–organized scheme to defraud and theft, and four misdemeanor counts of petit theft. She was booked at the Flagler County jail and released hours later on $7,000 bond.
According to Sarno’s arrest report, she admitted to taking the seven individuals’ money, knowing at the time that she had just four dogs, having given one away to a person she knew. She said she “stopped responding to the victims, because she was having personal issues and had to move,” the arrest report states, and that she’d lost her phone (it had been disconnected). She castigated herself and said she intended to repay her victims but didn’t have the money to do so.
As she spoke to the detective, she showed him evidence of the transactions, using her phone, and at one point showed him evidence of yet two more fraudulent transactions she assumed the detective already knew about. He did not.
The detective concluded that Sarno had “engaged in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct.” Additional charges are pending.
“Plainly put,” Police Chief Matt Doughney said, “the suspect in this case pulled on the heartstrings of her victims. People love puppies because they spark joy. This suspect preyed on her victims by taking their money and their hopes of owning a loveable puppy. I’m extremely proud of the teamwork displayed by Detective Vinci and our Patrol Officers who worked in unison in order to hold this suspect accountable for her unlawful actions.”
I’m not sure the circumstances, but if this woman was a tenant, a simple criminal background check would have kept her out of our City. Landlords should be more diligent about who leases AND occupies their rental investments.
I am a property manager. EVERY prospective tenant under goes a nation wide criminal background check.
Apparently, the results don’t matter so much to some renters.
As stated, ‘I’m not sure the circumstances’. Maybe she became a “Felon” post move-in. Are you the property manager at this community? As it is not a law that EVERY tenant has to go through a background check, simply the policy of a good management company. My comment was a general statement regarding Landlords as everyone over the age of 18 living in the apartment can be asked to complete the same background as the lease holder.
See something say something... says
To the dog pound you go, THIEF.
Willy Boy says
The more I learn about people, the more I love my dog – to paraphrase M. Twain.
White Bronco says
Absolutely agree, humans. Especially som of our locate fare, are the reason we all want to never leave the house. Society has deteriorated to a point of total avoidance. I won’t mention the demographic that makes up this area, but it certainly isn’t “southern charm.”
Wonder Dog says
I do not feel sorry for people buying puppies on Craigs List. There are many alternatives that are legitimate. A pet is going to be your best buddy, Do your homework and plan for your new friend. We already have too many pet owners who end up being irresponsible because they thought a pet would be nice.
NEVER BUY A DOG OFF THE INTERNET !
I found my dog on the internet. Made contact, arraigned to pick the dog up, i gave them money and got the dog. Simple. Just never send a prepayment. If you send payment first, you’re asking for it.
Amazed at the naivete says
I’m sorry, but why on Earth would you give a complete stranger $800 for puppies you never saw and believe that you could pick them up “later”? This is almost as bad as they scam where they tell some fool they found money in a bag in a parking lot and if they would just give them blah blah amount of money, they will split it with them? WHO believes this crap?! As P.T. Barnum supposedly said: “There’s a sucker born every minute”.
Trailer Bob says
Actually I think we can now change that from “every minute” to every second”…lol
A. J. says
Not good to take other peoples money. It us not good to spend money before you get the product. If she go to court I hope they lock her up for a long time. Advice: People please use your money in a wise manner, it us very tough out there. The people probsbly get their money back.
How about no money is given until the moment the puppy is given in exchange for said money. I know some require deposits but wow.
Only Me says
DO NOT use Craigs list to purchase an animal go to your local humane society they have plenty of loving pets needing forever homes, and the cost of adoptions are way less then these scammers on Craigs list, plus you get a copy of all medical and vaccine records.
Isn’t she the same one who was scamming ppl on swip swap also but getting ppl to donate items under a fasle story of in need, then turn around and sell the items?
If you want a great pet never look on Craigs List it can’t be trusted. Don’t pay someone a room homing charge either that is another scam.
Go to you local Humane Societies there are plenty of homeless animals there looking for a forever home. It is cheaper then what these people charge on Craigs list plus you will get vaccine and documents on that animal.
Be wise chosing a pet to become a member of your family.
Kudos to Pinellas County for putting her behind bars for 3 years where she belonged. The judges in Flagler County let such people get off with only a slap on the wrist. I am a senior citizen and was a victim of grand theft and the felon, who has multiple convictions in Volusia and Flagler and a rap sheet a mile long, still walks among us. Our judges are way too lenient.