CONSUMER Protection has issued a warning over puppy scams after a flood of inquiries, with one person losing $22,500.
There was a 200 per cent increase in inquiries about puppy scams during September to November this year compared to the same period in 2016.
“We regularly issue alerts about these puppy scams but there has been a marked increase in reports during the past three months, so we are again encouraging consumers to do a few checks before responding to these advertisements or sending any money,” Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said.
“The $22,500 reported loss related to a pomsky puppy, but we’ve also had scams reported about bulldogs, huskies and cavoodles.
“Regardless of the breed advertised, these scams all follow a similar path with consumers being asked to make an upfront payment for the puppy after being sent a photograph, and often then being told the puppy is on its way but more funds are required for shipping and insurance before the delivery can be made.
“These scams usually ask you to transfer the payment directly to a bank account or through a service like Western Union. In the end, no puppy is supplied and the payment is virtually impossible to trace.”
Commissioner Hillyard said if consumers were unable to see the puppy and meet the seller, then they should take steps to verify the seller’s identity.
He encouraged consumers to seriously consider buying local and to do so through recognised and registered dog breeders.
“Many of the fake website and Facebook pages can look quite professional so we urge consumers to double-check any business they are dealing with, and if they have any doubts to call us first before they send any money,” he said.
“Consumers should check whether the sellers have a legitimate physical address, a landline and an Australian Business Number (ABN) plus look for online reviews.
“And if you are paying for a puppy and not taking it away in person at the time of payment, then consider using PayPal, which has a dispute resolution service that offers a refund if you do not get what you paid for. The same protections do not exist with money transfers.”
Consumer Protection’s guide to buying a pet is available at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au or see the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) guide at www.rspcapuppyguide.com.au.