Puppy scammers prey on lonely Aussies in lockdown

AFP
Australia is suffering a wave of puppy scams as fraudsters target the lonely people with fake online offers of cavoodles, French bulldogs and other popular pooches.
AFP

Australia is suffering a wave of puppy scams as fraudsters target the lonely people with fake online offers of cavoodles, French bulldogs and other popular pooches, authorities said.

The consumer watchdog ACCC said the scammers fleeced people looking for a new pet out of some A$300,000 (US$196,000) in April alone, fives times higher than the normal monthly average.

“A lot of people are stuck at home and going online to buy a pet to help them get through the loneliness of social isolation,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Unfortunately the rush to get a new pet and the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 makes it harder to work out what’s real or a scam.”

With restrictions on travel making it harder for people to see dogs in-person, scammers will often ask for up-front payments to cover transport and then disappear, Rickard said.

“Unfortunately once you make the payments, the seller will cease all contact.”

The ACCC said cavoodles and French bulldogs were among the most popular breeds in the scams.

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