Online scams, pets: Police issue warning to pet lovers

DON'T BE FOOLED: Scammers are targeting pet lovers online, police warn. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
DON'T BE FOOLED: Scammers are targeting pet lovers online, police warn. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

THEIR cute puppy or kitten faces might promise a whole lot of love and joy, but police say scammers are targeting online pet sales.

NSW Police say there have been many reports of scams involving the sale of dogs and cats via online classified ads or social media sites.

"The scams are in particular, but not limited to, French bulldogs, pomeranians and dogs who have been bred from the poodle breed such as spoodles, cavoodles and moodles," officers said in a statement.

"Scammers request money through an Australian bank account transfer as well as other international money transfer companies."

Police said scammers initially ask for the purchase price of the pet, which may cost the victim between $600 to $4000, but they quickly ask for more money.

"Victims are then asked for further funds for shipping, customs fees, vet fees, quarantine fees, special crates to transport the animal," officers said.

Victims are then asked for further funds for shipping, customs fees, vet fees, quarantine fees, special crates to transport the animal.

NSW Police

"This is also used to excuse reasons for delivery delays."

Police warn that almost all communication from the scammer will be through email. Although there has been a small number of reports where voice over internet services have been utilised to make the incoming calls to appear to be local, or from the scammers stated location.

Officers have urged anyone looking for a pet to conduct thorough research into the breeder and the seller.

"Get involved with the online pet communities/breeder forums," police urge.

"Consider conducting a search on the exact wording of the advert to ascertain if there have been previous complaints made in relation to the breeder/seller through other forums.

"Look for signs of fraud such as continued requests for funds related to further unexpected fees/expenses/delivery delays."

Quarantine of imported animals

This is a lengthy process and police warn that offers of a short delivery time is a sign of scam.

For information regarding the importation of dogs/cats into Australia visit the Department of Agriculture and check out the step-by-step guide into importing an animal.

Victim of a scam?

Contact your bank as soon as you suspect you have been a victim of fraud.

Do not transfer any further funds to the breeder or seller regardless of the reason.

Contact your local police station or the Police Assistance Line can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 131 444.

Report cyber crime to the Australian Cyber Security Centre or via Scam Watch.

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This story Looking for a pet online? Police warn scammers are lurking first appeared on Western Advocate.