Scammers use cute puppy pics to lure their victims

Pic: File

Losses suffered by WA scam victims are mounting after they were conned into paying for puppies that don’t exist.

Fake advertisements are appearing on websites, online trading sites and social media platforms that feature cute photos and cheap prices, making them irresistible to puppy buyers.

So  far  this  year  28  consumers  have  reported  losing  a  total  of  $51,000.  In  2017,  42 people reported losing a total of $88,000 to puppy scams. Individual losses are as high as $5,000.

When  consumers  respond  to  these  bogus  ads,  they  are  told  they  need  to  pay  for transport costs, crates, insurance, shipping fees, vaccinations, quarantine clearances or a variety of other charges that must be paid up front. In some cases, they are told the money will be refunded on delivery.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard says  the scammers exploit the emotion of puppy buyers.

“The  buyers  fall  in  love  with  the  images  and  believe  the  puppy  is  on  its  way,  which leaves them vulnerable to pay whatever is demanded,” Mr Hillyard said.

“Consumers need to be vigilant when responding to ads posted online and not pay any money until they check out the seller and make sure the offer is genuine. Consumers should check whether the sellers have a legitimate physical address, a landline and an Australian Business Number (ABN), plus look for online reviews.

“If  you  can’t  verify  the  puppy  is  real  or  physically  meet  the  seller,  then  don’t take  a chance  on  losing  your  money  –  consider  only  dealing  with  local  sellers  and  dog breeders.

“If you pay using credit card or via PayPal, there is a good chance you’ll get your money back if the seller turns out to be a scammer. Payment via money transfer services in these circumstances, however, is risky as the money can’t be traced once collected.”

More  information  about  puppy  scams  is  available  at  www.scamnet.wa.gov.au,  or  call 1300 304 054 or email wascamnet@dmirs.wa.gov.au. Consumer Protection’s guide to buying a pet is available at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au or see the RSPCA guide at www.rspcapuppyguide.com.au.


The RSPCA recommends that when looking for a puppy, consumers should first visit a reputable animal  welfare  or  rescue  organisation.  These  groups  have  many  different types and breeds of puppies and dogs, with a variety of colours and personalities, all available for adoption and looking for a good home.

If consumers do want a particular type of dog, then they can find a registered breeder by searching the Canine Association of Western Australia site at www.dogswest.com.au.
 

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