By Gabriella Payne
Furry, four-legged friends have helped many people get through the difficulties of the past 18 months, but police are warning potential new puppy owners of a deceptive scam that’s circulating online throughout the area.
Investigators from the Cardinia Crime Investigation Unit are spreading the word and alerting the public to a rise in online puppy-purchase scamming.
The scam targets hopeful pet-owners via online social media sales outlets, in which the offenders are advertising dogs, mainly puppies, for purchase – but are using false accounts, false names and providing false phone numbers.
After making contact, the offenders are requesting the victims transfer large amounts of money as a first instalment.
Once this has been paid, they provide victims with a fake tracking number for a courier which they say will deliver the puppy, and then request the final instalment be paid.
These conversations are often occurring not in person, but via phone or internet and payments are being requested before the victim has physically met the seller and seen the puppy.
After the initial payment has been made by the victim, the offenders say that the puppy is on its way via courier, but this is not the case and the puppy never arrives.
The offenders generally then contact the victims advising that the puppy could not be sent for specific reasons and they require an additional large sum of money for varying costs including vaccinations, crates and the like, before the puppy can be sent.
Police are advising caution in making these kinds of purchases without actually viewing the animal and encourage people to do extensive background checks before transferring any amounts of cash to anyone in an online capacity.
If you find yourself in a similar situation and are unsure of how to proceed, advice can be obtained from Cybercrime at www.cyber.gov.au or via PAL, the Police Assistance Line on 131 444, or alternatively, at your local police station.