Pet buy­ers scammed online

Pilbara News - - Opinion - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood

Puppy scam­mers are get­ting their claws into the money of pet buy­ers in WA.

WA ScamNet, the area of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion that deals with con­sumer fraud, re­ceived three re­ports of mon­e­tary loss to puppy sale scams re­cently.

All of the vic­tims had been buy­ing online but there were slight dif­fer­ences in their sto­ries.

One con­sumer paid $700 for a husky puppy af­ter find­ing what she thought was a le­git­i­mate online pet-selling busi­ness.

On the Mon­day, the pup was due to ar­rive she re­ceived an email ask­ing for an ex­tra $200 and when she re­fused to pay, the scam­mer ceased con­tact.

The email ad­dress was sim­ply a free ac­count through Gmail.

One con­sumer tried to buy a pug puppy via an in­di­vid­ual’s Face­book page and sent $200 by Western Union to Cameroon.

He was later asked to pay a fur­ther $800 for in­sur­ance and he be­came sus­pi­cious.

The Face­book page has now been deleted.

One con­sumer tried to buy a dog on Gumtree for $600.

Upon re­al­is­ing it was a scam he asked for a re­fund and he was amaz­ingly of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to be­come a money mule (a per­son re­cruited to re­ceive funds from scam/fraud vic­tims and then trans­fer the money to or­gan­ised crim­i­nals in another coun­try).

Com­monly the breeds of­fered in puppy scams are sought-af­ter and usu­ally the ask­ing price is slightly lower than the amount you would ex­pect to pay for that type of dog.

You will be able to see photos but they may be stolen from so­cial media, mean­ing they could be im­ages of a dog that al­ready has an owner or even a dog that is no longer alive.

Usu­ally the email ad­dresses used will be through free ac­count provid- ers and some­times the emails are poorly writ­ten due to English be­ing a sec­ond lan­guage for the over­seas­based scam­mer.

Any ad­verts will likely be on free clas­si­fieds web­sites or so­cial media chan­nels, although some­times the scam­mers will pay for clas­si­fied ads us­ing stolen credit card de­tails.

Any phone num­ber given will be for a mo­bile phone or a VoIP (Voice over In­ter­net Pro­to­col).

Scam­mers use con­tact de­tails that can easily be can­celled with­out trace.

Of­ten the scam­mers will claim that the puppy is over east and needs to be trans­ported.

This will give them a rea­son to get money from you, such as crate or ship­ping fees.

They may also ask for money to­wards a vet-check or travel in­sur­ance.

They will prob­a­bly want you to send the funds by wire trans­fer.

How­ever, the use of an Aus­tralian bank ac­count is pos­si­ble be­cause they may have some­one work­ing as a money mule who ac­cepts money in ex­change for com­mis­sion.

Take a step back from any online trans­ac­tion, speak to some­one you trust and dou­ble-check the iden­tity or busi­ness you are deal­ing with.

For ex­am­ple, when shop­ping for a dog, use the reg­is­tered lo­cal breeder search func­tion on the Ca­nine As­so­ci­a­tion of WA web­site at www.dogswest.com.au.

When you are try­ing to find eastern State breed­ers there are sim­i­lar sites, such as www.dogsnsw.org.au and www.dogs vic­to­ria.org.au.

If you have doubts about an online trans­ac­tion, call WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion has a guide for pet buy­ers at www.com­merce. wa.gov.au/con­sumer-pro­tec­tion/ buy­ing-pet and the RSPCA has a guide at www.rsp­ca­pup­pyguide. com.au. ■ Gwyn­neth Hay­wood is a se­nior re­gional of­fi­cer with the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Di­vi­sion — Pil­bara Depart­ment of Com­merce.

Pic­ture: He­len Osler

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