Sheep sold as poodles

See updates below. Thousands of Japanese people have apparently been scammed into buying "poodles" that are actually sheep with fancy haircuts. The scam was uncovered after actress Maiko Kawakami showed a photo of her pet poodle on TV and commented that it "didn't bark and refused to eat dog food," according to a article. After being informed that the poodle was a sheep, police lines rang with other rubes telling the same story. From
'We launched an investigation after we were made aware that a company was selling sheep as poodles,' a police spokesman told The Sun.

'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.'
Link (via Fortean Times)

UPDATE: There is some debate over whether this story is true or an urban legend. Link

UPDATE: And BB reader Jeff Gordon points to this story, from ninemsn, suggesting that the poodle/sheep scam may not be true. Link

UPDATE: And last but not least, a summary of the doubt at Snopes. Link

UPDATE: And the final word is that this story is not true. According to an AFP article, Kawakami denied that she had been scammed but rather that she overheard someone else telling the story in a nail salon and had simply recounted it on TV. Meanwhile, the police in Sapporo said that "the "article is completely made up." Link