A disabled family have been scammed out of thousands of pounds after they purchased two emotional support monkeys online which never showed up.
Kaylaw Prado, 30, and her family, had hoped that the capuchin monkeys would lift her five-year-old daughters' spirits after she had lost her two fingers in a horror lawnmower accident at the start of the pandemic.
Her partner Cory St. James believed the pet would also had a positive boost on his brother, who has Down's syndrome and other health issues.
The family, from Ontario, Canada, said they started their search for the perfect pet in late March, which is when they came across Universal Chimp Farms.
Kaylaw says the seller told her she would receive two capuchin monkeys by April 6 once she had handed over $1,500 (around £1,150) for each one.
But the family soon realised they had been involved in a "sickening" scam after they were forced to pay out heaps more money to cover supposed additional costs, reports CBC News.
They claim they eventually handed over $8,000 [ £6,137.16 ] after the company allegedly threatened to withdraw the animals unless they paid more money.
CBC News confirmed the family had shown them receipts which amounted to $2,700 (around £2,100) but no animals were ever received.
"It's the fact that they knew we had disabled children, and they sit there and take that much money from us," said Kaylaw.
"It's sickening. It's absolutely sickening."
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's regulations on primates states that "personal importation for breeding or pet purposes is prohibited from any country due to public health concerns and zoonotic disease potential".
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It has been reported that emotional support animals are not viewed as service animals under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
But the family said that they wasn't aware until it was too late and said they planned to apply for a prohibited pet licence in Scugog once the animals had arrived.
Cory St. James said they would've provided a beacon of light for his family who had endured a "rough two years", with his mum's house burning down shortly after his daughter lost her fingers.
However, he noted that the seller only accepted payment in prepaid Visa and Mastercard gift cards and said that a few Walmart stores refused to sell them over fears that the family were involved in a scam.
But despite some red flags, the family continued their arrangement after they received documents such as; transfer of ownership, health records and delivery confirmation.
"I wanted this monkey so bad for our family. I had blinders on, " his mother Darlene Johnson said. "I should've listened to him."
Kaylaw says she hopes her story can prevent others from being scammed.
"I hope this goes global … and these people get scared, they stop doing what they do and the police find them," she said.
Universal Monkey Farms have been contacted for comment.
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