Puppy dog eyes luring Canberrans into scams

Glynis Quinlan 29 March 2018

An example of a photo used in a puppy scam. Photo supplied by Scamwatch.

Falling for puppy dog eyes had led some Canberrans to also fall for scams, with Scamwatch warning people to watch out for scammers setting up fake ads pretending to sell adorable puppies.

In the past 12 months, 15 Canberrans have reported being caught in the scams, which pull at their heartstrings and often involve an offer of pedigree pups at cheap prices.

Women are three times more likely than men to get caught by the puppy scams, with people in the 25-34 age group reported to have lost the most money to the scam.

“Puppy scammers play on people’s emotions who have their heart set on a particular breed. Once they see that cute puppy picture in an ad, they drop their guard and tend to miss the warning signs they’re dealing with a scammer,” Australian Competition & Consumer Commission Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Scammers will advertise puppies they know are sought after, particularly pedigree breeds. Reports to Scamwatch show the majority of people have been contacted by scammers via email or online through classified sites and even social media.”

Another example of a photo used in a puppy scam. Photo supplied by Scamwatch.

Throughout Australia, there have been 584 reports about the scam in the past 12 months, with more than $310,000 lost. In the ACT, losses have totalled $4,720.

According to Scamwatch, a key indication you are dealing with a puppy scammer is the stories they spin.

For example, scammers 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.

Another common ruse involves the scammer claiming that the puppy is overseas and can’t be delivered unless a payment is made due to customs or quarantine issues.

“If you hear these tales from a ‘seller’, stop all communication with them. The puppy, sadly, isn’t real and if you make those payments, you’ll lose your money,” Ms Rickard said.

Ms Rickard said there are some important tips people can follow to protect themselves from puppy scammers.

“Most important is that old saying: ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is’,” Ms Rickard said.

“Don’t believe the ad is legitimate just because you see it on reputable websites, social media or even your favourite newspapers.

“It’s also worth doing an internet search using the exact wording in the ad. Scammers get lazy and use the same wording over and over again. People are good at sharing intel like this online to save others from getting caught,” she said.

“Finally, if you are in doubt, seek advice from someone in the industry such as a reputable breeders’ association, vet or local pet shop.”

If you are aware of a puppy scam please report it to Scamwatch by clicking here.

Have you ever come across a puppy scam or a puppy ad you thought was dodgy? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.

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