Australians have lost nearly $300,000 to puppy scams this year, and scammers have been particularly targeting those seeking a furry companion during social isolation.
Scamwatch has seen a recent spike in puppy scams and in April reports were almost five times higher than the average, with losses on track to exceed the 2019 total of $360,000.
“A lot of people are stuck at home and going online to buy a pet to help them get through the loneliness of social isolation,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
“Unfortunately the rush to get a new pet and the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 makes it harder to work out what’s real or a scam.”
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.
“Once you have paid the initial deposit, the scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, and scammers are now using the COVID-19 pandemic to claim higher transportation costs to get across closed interstate borders or additional fees for ‘coronavirus treatments’,” Ms Rickard said.
For more on this story see Page 2 of The Advertiser, Tuesday, June 2