April 2013: Looking for a furry friend? Watch out – scammers continue to use cute and cuddly canines to pull on people's heart strings and get them to part with their money.
SCAMwatch has received an increase in the number of scams involving puppies this year. This scam typically involves ads for non-existent puppies being placed in newspapers and online classifieds at suspiciously low prices. The 'seller' provides interested buyers with pictures of an adorable puppy and then tricks them into paying fees for transport, customs or medical costs before the dog can be delivered. Once the payment is made, the puppy and money vanish without a trace.
Scammers prey upon individuals and families who just want to give a dog a good home.
Don't let your search for a furry friend be sidelined by a scammer – make sure the seller and the puppy are the real deal.
How these scams work
- You visit a reputable newspaper or online classifieds website where you come across an ad offering a pedigree puppy for a really cheap price. The ad may include a picture of a very cute puppy and claim that it is registered and has been 'lovingly raised'.
- If you wish to buy the dog, the 'seller' will often claim that they have moved interstate or overseas and that you will need to pay for transport or medical costs before the puppy can be delivered. The 'seller' asks for payment to be made via money transfer.
- If you pay, you will never receive the puppy or see your money again.
- If the scammer claims that the puppy is overseas, they may pretend that non-delivery is due to customs or quarantine issues, and that further payment is due before the puppy will be released. Again, any further money sent will be lost and the dog will never be delivered.
- Be cautious - if the advertised price of a pedigree puppy looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don't trust the legitimacy of an ad just because it appears in a reputable newspaper or online classifieds website - scammers often use these.
- Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for upfront payment via money order or wire transfer – it's rare to recover money sent this way.
- Search online using the exact wording in the ad—many well-known scams can be found this way.
- If you are in doubt, seek advice from someone in the industry such as a reputable breeders association, vet or local pet shop.
- Remember: it is impossible to import a dog from overseas into Australia in a few weeks as quarantine procedures need to be followed. For details check the requirements with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
You can report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.
For more information about how you can protect yourself, check out the upfront payment scams page on SCAMwatch.
SCAMwatch has also issued the following radars on puppy related scams:
Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.
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