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David Emery

Sheep Sold as Poodles in Japan?

By April 27, 2007

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According to a report in the U.K. tabloid The Sun, Japanese police have shut down a devious online enterprise accused of charging customers $1,200 for "poodles" that turned out to be sheep. One of the alleged victims was actress Maiko Kawakami, who didn't realize she'd been scammed, supposedly, until she displayed pictures of her fluffy new pet on TV and found out it was actually a lamb. Since sheep are a fairly rare sight in Japan, the story goes on to say, many Japanese have no idea what they look like. As many as 2,000 people were bilked in the scam.

If your myth detector is beeping, it's for very good reason. No sooner had this story made the international rounds than some news outlets began reporting that The Sun -- not always the most, er, reliable of sources -- had apparently gotten the facts entirely wrong. As it turns out, Ms. Kawakami never claimed to have purchased one of the animals herself, but told a story on a talk show about a friend who supposedly did and learned only after taking her "dog" to a veterinarian that it wasn't a dog at all (cf. "The Mexican Pet"). Police say they've never heard of the scam, nor the company alleged to have sold the pets, nor have any other "victims" come forward. And, for the record, few Japanese would have any difficulty at all distinguishing a sheep from a poodle.

"Tall stories are common on Japanese talk shows and their authenticity is not carefully checked," notes ninemsn reporter Shaun Davies. It would appear the same can be said for The Sun.

Discuss.

Dig deeper:
Ewe've Been Conned Ladies - The Sun
Media Flock to Report on Japanese Poodle Scam - Cerebral Soup
Dog-Sheep Swap Scam or Sham - AAP
Poodle Scam Story a Hoax - ninemsn
Perhaps We Shouldn't Have Been So Quick with the Lamb-Poodle Stories - USA Today

Comments

April 27, 2007 at 11:15 pm
(1) ShariYS says:

That anyone would ever even begin to believe something like this just boggles my mind!

April 30, 2007 at 12:22 pm
(2) Victoria says:

Of course no one should think that this is true.It sounds to much of the Mexican Pet thing I mean come on now. If you are a big urban legends person you should know that this is totally fake and if you thought it was real you should read more urban legends.

April 30, 2007 at 7:19 pm
(3) Dianne says:

That is to rich! It does make standing in the grocery store line less boreing!

May 1, 2007 at 10:05 am
(4) MamaJay says:

Sounds the the infamous “FOAF” (Friend Of A Friend) struck in Japan!

May 2, 2007 at 9:47 am
(5) Sheneneh Jenkins says:

Right on, Mama!

May 2, 2007 at 4:35 pm
(6) Bob Levy says:

Or she is just a liar.

May 3, 2007 at 4:43 am
(7) Liz G. says:

Well the Australian Herald Sun newspaper is not known for it’s acturacy or it’s reliability. I’d be surprised if they bothered to check any of their stories at all!

May 4, 2007 at 8:42 am
(8) Semavi Lady says:

I think that Bedlington Terriers look more like lambs. :)

May 5, 2007 at 8:59 am
(9) Michael P says:

As an Aussie I find it more disturbing that the world takes the ‘SUN’seriously

May 5, 2007 at 8:35 pm
(10) Ruby says:

Amazingly, we had a minature black poodle that we used in a Christmas play as a sheep one year. The dog sure looked like a little black lamb, too!She was about the size of a large newborn lamb. We used a toy thing that bleated like a lamb to make it more real to the kids. People actually though we had brought in a lamb!

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