Since January, an increase in puppy scams has been picked up by investigators from the Durham Regional Police Service Financial Crimes Unit.
So far, over 15 incidents have been reported where the victim saw an ad online, in which they responded, sent money with the presumption that they would receive a puppy, and never received anything in return.
According to the Durham police, in some cases, the fraudster would ask for transport fees, customs fees, or medical costs before delivering the dog.
But then, once the payment is made, they allegedly continue to demand more money for fees of a “non-existent pet.”
The police also say that some of the advertisements would lure victims with pictures and videos of cute pets, with fraudsters offering a pedigree pet at a low cost.
Often, sellers will claim that they moved further away and sometimes overseas.
In one of the incidents, a victim lost over $1,800 for a puppy which he never received.
The Durham police have some tips to ensure individuals do not fall victim to these puppy scams, which include:
- Make attempts to go in person to pick up the puppy
- Do not send money before receiving your product from an unknown source
- Check the website and do some research carefully to verify its legitimacy
- Ask for references, not just testimonials on a website
- Buy local if you can and if the price is too good to be true, it’s probably not true
- Call the seller and speak to them in person, usually scammers will avoid this
- Do not share personal or financial information
- Perform an online reverse image search on the puppy image to see if it is linked to scams and other websites
- Contact local reputable breeders and shelters
The public is encouraged to report these incidents to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 and refer to their website for recent scams and further resources.