Attorney general's office investigating claims of fraud against service dog company

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MARION, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - A Marion family is heartbroken after they say they were scammed by a company they paid thousands of dollars for a service dog they never got.

ABC6 did some digging and it turns out there have been numerous complaints filed against M & R Working Dogs. The state attorney general's office has 10 open complaints from across the country. ABC6 has learned that the Franklin County Sheriff's Office has also opened an investigation into the company.

A number of families are now feeling like they were targets of a scam when all they were looking for was help.

Michelle Tillman told ABC6 that she is upset. She has a pretty good reason. She told ABC6 that she paid more than $10,000 to M & R Working Dogs out of Grove City for a service dog to assist her 8-year-old daughter Kaycee. The young girl is dealing with seizures due to a rare brain disease.

Tillman told ABC6 that she started making payments to the company back in 2015. She told ABC6 that Melody Towns, the owner of the company, sent picture after picture of different pups that were supposedly being trained for the family.

"This one made her cry. There were lots of big tears that came down the other night. It was devastating to tell her. I had put off telling her for a while and I finally decided she's heard me talk about this dog for a while now. I need to let her know what's going on. Melody just kept taking our money and shut off communication. And I just think it makes it that much worse," said Tillman.

Tillman told ABC6 the last time she was able to make contact with the company was back in April. The Tillmans are not the only family running into issues with the company. The state attorney general's office is looking into a list of complaints from across the country, from Texas to Florida and even New York.

Customers who claim they were burned by the company have even started the "Service Dog Scam" Facebook page to share their stories and send out a warning.

"There's at least 14 of us that I know of that this has affected all across the United States," said Tillman.

ABC6 attempted to speak with the owner of M & R; no one answered by phone. Our investigative team was told to leave the property when we stopped by the Grove City headquarters.

At this point, Tillman simply wants to get the family's money back or get the service dog the family was promised.

"I just wish she would try to make it right in some way," Tillman told ABC6.

ABC6 was told that this issue has put a number of these families in a major financial bind. The Tillmans, for instance, actually put together fundraisers to pay for their service dog. If they don't get that dog, the family told ABC6 they would like to pay the donors back.