Western Australia's Consumer Protection body has warned puppy buyers to be on the lookout for fraudulent puppy sales sites that fleece innocent buyers’ money.

Scammers fleece puppy buyers selling non-existent puppies

28 people have been left a total of AUD$51,000 out of pocket after purchasing non-existent puppies advertised online.

News service company AAP reports that fake websites and social media accounts have been advertising cute puppies for sale alongside adorable images and attractive price tags. Customers are then required to pay for transport, crates, shipping, quarantine clearance and vaccination costs. The trouble is – the puppies never existed in the first place!

Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said buyers fall in love with the images and believe the puppy is on its way, which leaves them vulnerable to pay whatever is demanded.

"Consumers should check whether the sellers have a legitimate physical address, a landline and an Australian Business Number, plus look for online reviews," he said.

Pet scamming: an increasing trend

It's not the first time such warnings have been issued by the Consumer Protection body. As the online market for animal sales increases, so too do the number of scammers willing to deceive people by appealing to their emotions. And the problem isn't just isolated to Australia; buyers throughout the world are increasingly being misled.

Mr Hillyard has previously said that all potential animal buyers should always visit the animal in person, including alongside its parents. They should also ensure the conditions in which the animal has been raised meets the appropriate guidelines for breeding and selling pets.

If you're unsure about what constitutes a reputable breeder or shelter, you can use the RSPCA's guidelines on how to buy a puppy or dog the smart way.

Meanwhile, the UK government is considering a proposal to ban the sale of pet shop puppies. Read more about it here!

Source: AAP

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