A Japanese actress inadvertantly blew the lid off a scam which had duped thousands of women into buying coiffured sheep in the belief they were poodles, the Evening Standard reports.
Maiko Kawakami appeared on a TV talk show with snaps of her pet, and admitted she wondered why it "didn't bark and refused to eat dog food". She was soon set straight - her dog was in fact a sheep.
The revelation provoked a stream of women to contact the cops with "similar problems". The powers that be reckon that as many as 2,000 have fallen victim to the audacious ovine poodle con, perpetrated by internet company "Poodles as Pets", which offered the animals at £630 a pop.
A police spokesman told The Sun: "We launched an investigation after we were made aware that a company was selling sheep as poodles. Sadly, we think there is more than one company operating in this way. The sheep are believed to have been imported from overseas - Britain and Australia."
In case you're wondering how on God's Green Earth you could mistake a sheep for a dog, the Standard explains that poodles are "extremely rare in Japan, with many people having little idea what they look like". No, we're not convinced either. ®