A New Jersey man is accused of beating a puppy to death, all the while using the animal’s injuries as a way to scam donors out of money through a crowdfunding site, NJ Advance Media is reporting.
Reid M. Herjo, 24, of Medford, first came to the attention of law enforcement when he was pulled over for speeding in January. At the time, he told cops that his 14-week-old puppy, Atlas, had been hit by an ATV and that he was taking the injured animal to the veterinarian.
Herjo then set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for “veterinary bills” for the injured animal. He raised over $15,000.
However, police later learned, according to KYW-TV (Philadelphia), that the animal’s injuries weren’t consistent with what Herjo had claimed had happened, said Lt. Arthur Waterman with the Medford Township Police Department.
“Doing some research and looking into it, it was determined the dog’s injuries were not consistent with what was being alleged to have occurred and there was potential that the dog may have been beaten.”
Atlas’ injuries were described as “severe,” and included numerous fractures that had to be treated surgically, as well as severe hemorrhaging.
“Police now say the dog’s owner intentionally caused the injuries. The 5-month-old dog, Atlas, died on February 3rd…”
Brutal. Has to be a special kind of a sadist to torture a dog for money. This story made me go and hug my dog!https://t.co/aUofQ5Ec1P
— Deepak Karambelkar (@krumbsd) April 12, 2018
What’s more, police say that Atlas had been severely injured, likely be Herjo, at least twice in the small period of time during which Herjo owned him. On one occasion, Herjo claimed that the animal had fallen down the stairs; on another, he claimed that Atlas had fallen down a hill.
Atlas died of his injuries less than a week after having been taken to the vet following his “ATV accident.”
Meanwhile, donations were pouring in to the fraudulent crowdfunding account Herjo had set up. Specifically, 693 separate donations totaling $14,065 came in.
After GoFundMe learned of Herjo’s alleged fraud, the campaign was closed and Herjo was banned from using the platform.
Neighbor Jeff Singer hopes those donors are compensated.
“I hope he gives those people back their money. I mean 693 people over a vet bill. What a con!”
In fact, GoFundMe has already promised to issue refunds to each of the people scammed by Herjo’s campaign.
Herjo, meanwhile, has been charged with animal cruelty and theft.