Safe­guard against pet-buy­ing scams

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood Gwyn­neth Hay­wood is the se­nior re­gional of­fi­cer for Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

Puppy scam­mers have been get­ting their claws into the money of pet buy­ers in WA for years.

The scam­mers also use kit­tens, birds and other pop­u­lar an­i­mals as bait. Sadly, the an­i­mal never ar­rives and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion has re­ceived re­ports of mone­tary loss from many heart­bro­ken would-be pet own­ers. Ad­ver­tise­ments can be in: News­pa­pers — usu­ally with an email ad­dress for con­tact.

The Face­book mar­ket­place — com­mu­nity buy, swap and sell pages or fake pages with paid-for “likes” from non-gen­uine fol­low­ers to make them ap­pear to be a real breed­ing busi­ness.

On­line clas­si­fieds such as Gumtree and auc­tion sales sites like eBay.

Con­sumers need to be aware scam­mers may even hi­jack peo­ple’s pro­files on auc­tion or sales sites and use the seller’s rep­u­ta­tion to lull po­ten­tial buy­ers into a false sense of se­cu­rity.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion has a guide to buy­ing a pet that is avail­able on www.commerce.wa.gov.au/ con­sumer-pro­tec­tion that will not only help with avoid­ing be­ing scammed but also with tips for le­git­i­mate pur­chases.

The RSPCA also has a guide in­clud­ing a check­list for buy­ers and sug­gests pur­chas­ing from lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ters. Re­sist pres­sure to act now. If you have any doubts, don’t go ahead with the deal.

Tips for pet buy­ers:

Be­fore pay­ing, see the an­i­mal for your­self and if pos­si­ble its par­ents too, have it vet-checked and review any pa­pers.

If you can­not meet the seller, at the very least see the an­i­mal via we­b­cam not just still pic­tures, which could be stolen.

Be warned — pri­vate sales are un­likely to be cov­ered by con­sumer law.

Con­sider us­ing a reg­is­tered lo­cal breeder — you can search via the Ca­nine As­so­ci­a­tion of Western Aus­tralia Dogs West web­site www.dogswest.com.au. Deal with busi­nesses with a phys­i­cal ad­dress, a land­line num­ber and an ABN. Check on­line re­views of the breeder.

If pay­ing and not tak­ing the pet away in per­son at the time of pay­ment, con­sider us­ing PayPal, which has a dis­pute res­o­lu­tion ser­vice if you do not get what you paid for.

How on­line pet sale scams work

Pho­tos sup­plied may be stolen from so­cial me­dia, mean­ing they could be im­ages of a pet that al­ready has an owner or one that is no longer alive.

The email ad­dresses are usu­ally from free ac­count providers and mes­sages are of­ten in poor English if the scam­mer is over­seas-based but be­ware that a well-writ­ten email can still be a scam.

Any phone num­ber given will be for a mo­bile phone or Voice Over In­ter­net Pro­to­col.

The ad­ver­tise­ment may ap­pear as if the seller is in Perth but once con­tacted they will say they are out­side WA and the an­i­mal needs to be trans­ported. This gives them a rea­son to get you to pay for ship­ping fees, air­fares or travel in­surance. Pay­ment may be re­quested by wire trans­fer, how­ever the use of an Aus­tralian bank ac­count does not al­ways le­git­imise the busi­ness as the scam­mer may have a money mule ac­cept­ing the money.

If you do pay, gen­er­ally ship­ping will be de­layed for a rea­son which re­quires a fur­ther pay­ment.

If you have doubts about an on­line trans­ac­tion, call WA ScamNet on 1300 304 054.

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