It’s been months since Australia fell into the grips of COVID-19, with many of us suddenly confined to the four walls around us. With more time being spent at home than ever before, adding a furry friend to the family has become increasingly popular – but it’s not always as simple as adopting a sweet kitten or puppy and calling it a day. In fact, purchasing a pet amidst the pandemic in Australia could put you at risk of one of these scams.
The ABC reports that “Australians have lost more than $1.3 million to puppy scams since the start of the year – almost four times more than the whole of 2019,” with troubling stories of scammers posing as dog breeders and extorting money from hopeful pet owners.
Donna tried to prove she wasn't a scammer. Then she got scammed https://t.co/ROxjwF9DgP
— ABC News (@abcnews) September 19, 2020
9Now adds that many Aussie families have “handed over thousands of dollars to who they thought were breeders,” only to realise they were paying someone disguised under a fake digital profile using stolen images of animals. To make matters worse, multiple frauds are reportedly using the names of real people, who are faced with ripping off customers they didn’t even know existed.
Speaking to A Current Affair, ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said: “April alone we received about five times the number of reports we would normally receive.”
So, the question is, what’s the best way to avoid getting scammed out of your hard-earned cash when purchasing a pet?
Tips On Avoiding Pet Scams
“If you’re looking for a puppy online, only go for one you can collect in person and pay for in person, otherwise it’s very hard to tell whether or not you’re going to be scammed,” Rickard told A Current Affair.
Rickard also suggested checking the legitimacy of the pet images that are provided with a good old-fashioned Catfish style reverse image search.
“Probably the smartest thing to do is quickly do a reverse image source picture of the puppy and that may tell you that picture has appeared in many other places and that will tell you instantly that it’s a scam,” she said.
Andersons Solicitors states you should also insist on seeing or meeting the puppy before purchasing it, ask for Breeder ID details and check them against licensing bodies, ask for vet and registration details, find legitimate breeders through the association linked to the breed you’re interested in, and ask for multiple photos of the pet.
Most importantly, don’t give away any personal information including driver’s licenses or bank details when organising the purchase of your new furry friend. Times are tough at the moment, and these scams are only making it harder for Aussies to get ahead. By being vigilant and smart when adopting or buying a pet, we can all help to outsmart the frauds.