Carrie Cherkinsky lost her dog Friday, and when she got a call someone had him, she raced with her checkbook and cash to get him back.
The man never showed, but Cherkinsky wants to warn others that her desperation made her blind to a potential trap.
Cherkinsky thinks her dog Jameson may have gotten past the pet fence when she was out and her roommate had the door open. She hasn't seen him since.
After spending hours posting hundreds of missing dog fliers, she got a call from a man with a blocked number. She hardly took any precautions and went to meet him at a local park.
That's the kind of desperation Orange County deputies says makes a target for criminals.
"In the case of a pet that's very emotional, and if someone claims that they've found your pet of course you're going to want to get it back as soon as you can, but we want people to be very cautious when they're meeting another individual that they don't know," said Jane Watrel, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Watrel says just last week two men beat and robbed someone who'd arranged to buy a cell phone on Craigslist. She says similar crimes are a trend that's on the rise.
Deputies say it seems like common sense, but they want to remind people to meet someone they don't know at a police station or other safe place.
Besides hoping she finds Jameson, Cherkinsky wants to warn other pet owners not to trust so blindly.
"I'm afraid that other people might get taken advantage of for losing their dog," she said.