Puppy Scams

Watch out for Puppy Scams

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Puppy scams cause a lot of heartbreak and anger, and unwittingly impact legitimate businesses in Australia

Adopting a puppy is one of the greatest joys that families can experience, but unfortunately COVID-19 lockdowns have led to a rise in scammers taking advantage of Australians looking for a new furry family member. Their standard scam is to draw in unsuspecting buyers with fake photos, request as many payments as they think they can get away with, then disappear.

Australians have lost nearly $300K to puppy scams in 2020, particularly those seeking a furry companion online during the loneliness of social isolation, according to ACCC Scamwatch.

In fact, compared to the year before, ScamWatch recorded a fivefold increase for corrupt schemes to extort money out of consumers for dogs that did not exist!

That is why Companion Animal Network Australia has partnered with Puppy Scam Awareness Australia (PSAA) to raise awareness about puppy scams that cause a lot of heartbreak and anger, and unwittingly involve legitimate businesses in Australia.

PSAA is dedicated to bringing awareness about the thousands of pet scamming syndicates who prey on pet shoppers by exposing scam sites, supporting scam victims and providing resources to help educate and empower puppy buyers to protect themselves.

It can be difficult to know what is real or a scam. Knowing the scammers’ tricks can help you avoid the heartbreak of not getting the puppy you wanted.

Tips to keep in mind if you are looking to get a family pet:

  • Scammers set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and social media pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds. Email is the only way to contact them.
  • Scammers take advantage of travel restrictions that prevent you from traveling to meet the puppy in person. They normally ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you.
  • Once you pay the deposit, a scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, such as claiming higher transportation costs to get across interstate borders. Unfortunately, once you make the payments, the seller will cease all contact.
  • Scam websites can look quite convincing – try not to fall for the adorable puppy pictures they post. To avoid being scammed, only buy or adopt a pet you can meet in person.
  • If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Research the seller online using the exact wording in the ad and do a reverse image search for pictures of the specific puppy to see if you can find matching images or text on multiple websites.
  • If you are in doubt, seek advice from a reputable dog breeders association, veterinarian or local animal shelter.
  • For tips to avoid fake websites and a list of fraudulent websites, visit the Puppy Scam Awareness Australia website
  • For a guaranteed real pet to welcome into your family, contact a CANA member in your state.

If you think you are scammed, contact your financial institution right away. For more information, www.scamwatch.gov.au

Identity Stolen by Scammers

“I’m a legitimate business and scammers used my name, ABN and even superimposed my name on someone else’s Tasmanian driver’s license to show buyers as evidence.  I also discovered 36 bank accounts with my name linked to it. Some people have lost money. I’ve reported it to the police, Cyber Crime, my bank and other authorities to try to track the scammers, but it’s hard to find them. Saddest part is getting innocent people and tugging at their hearts for a puppy, and I am unknowingly part of that.”

— Lesley, dog groomer, Tasmania

Devastated father, kids

“I was scammed $2,000 (trying to buy a puppy) and I feel sick. How they can do this to people, let alone my kids? I even checked and double checked everything, including the breeder number which was legit, plus video calls and emails, and still got scammed. Money is money comes and goes, but what they did with my boys’ emotions are hard to forget!”

— Diego, puppy buyer, NSW

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