Pause to avoid a puppy scam

ACCC: Consumers lost $173,000 to scammers in 2012

The ACCC is warning consumers to watch out for puppy scams after $35,000 was reported lost by victims so far this year.

“If you are looking for a new puppy be careful of classified ads for pedigree pups at prices that are too good to be true,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

In 2012, the ACCC received over 700 complaints about fraudulent ads in newspapers and classifieds websites selling puppies that may not even exist.

“Scammers use adorable photos of puppies in these ads to suck you in. Sadly, over a quarter of people who come into contact with these scammers lose money to them, with $173,000 reported lost last year.”

Typically the seller tries to persuade the buyer to pay a fee for the dog without actually seeing it. Victims are tricked into paying additional transport costs to their home from the buyer in Australia or overseas. When payment is subsequently made, the puppy is never delivered.”

Gemma* had been begging her mum for a puppy for her 13th birthday. She saw an ad for a Labrador litter in the local paper that was being sold close by in Parramatta. They contacted the owner who said he had just moved to Newcastle but would arrange for the puppy to be delivered that weekend, just in time for Gemma’s birthday. Her mum transferred $750 for the Labrador pup plus $200 for travel costs, and they excitedly prepared for its arrival. When the puppy didn’t arrive Gemma’s mum repeatedly tried to contact the seller with no luck. They realised they had been scammed and Gemma was devastated.

“Scammers prey upon anyone, including families, who just want to give a dog a good home. If you are looking for a new furry friend, choose your seller carefully so that you actually get what you paid for,” Ms Rickard said.

“Don’t trust the legitimacy of an ad just because it appears in a reputable newspaper or online classifieds website and avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order or international wire transfer.”

“I encourage you to do an internet search using the exact wording in the ad as many well-known scams can be found this way.

These scammers will always have a reason you cannot see the dog before you pay for it so this is definitely a red flag. If you are in doubt, contact a reputable breeders association for advice.”


*Names have been change to protect the victim’s identity