False promise of puppies scams Tasmanians out of more than $35,000

Tasmanians have lost over $35,000 to puppy scams this year, with people sending money for pets that do not exist.

Detective Sergeant Paul Turner, of Tasmania Police’s E-Crime Investigation Services, said that many people had fallen victim to these types of scams during Covid19.

To date, there have been 11 Tasmanian victims who have lost approximately $35,000 to overseas scammers.

“This is another type of scam where the offenders target the emotions of their victims, such as romance scams,” Detective Sergeant Turner said.

“Scammers set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and social media pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds and will take advantage of the fact that you can’t travel to meet the puppy in person.

“The scammer will usually ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you.

“Usually after the initial deposit the scammer will make new excuses to request more money such as delayed transport and shipping cost. Once you make the payments, the seller will cease all contact.”

Detective Sergeant Turner said that the most common breeds reported were Cavoodles, Shih Tzu and French Bulldogs and most people contacted the scammers via an email address they found online.

“The only safe option is to purchases or adopt a pet from someone you can contact in person or purchase from a well know reputable breeder that you have researched well,” Detective Sergeant Turner said.

“Scam websites can look very convincing but remember if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

If you are in doubt, seek advice from a reputable breeders’ association, vet or local pet shop.

“If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible,” Detective Sergeant Turner said.

More information on coronavirus scams is available on the Scamwatch.gov.au web site.

Advice to members of the public:

  • Confirm who you’re dealing with via independent means – do your research
  • 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.
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