Don’t be tempted by cute photos of puppies online.
Don’t be tempted by cute photos of puppies online.

SCAM: 'Try not to fall for adorable puppy pictures'

MANY people are looking for a bit of company this winter and there is nothing cuter than a puppy.

But the ACCC is urging consumers to be wary of online puppy purchases.

Scamwatch, Australia's leading scam report, received a spike in puppy scams in recent months, with reports being five times higher than average and losses on track to exceed 2019.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said that puppy scams usually involve fake websites and photos where customers can send their money to purchase a dog, only to never receive one.

"Once you have paid the initial deposit, the scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, and scammers are now using the COVID-19 pandemic to claim higher transportation costs to get across closed interstate borders or additional fees for 'coronavirus treatments'," Ms Rickard said.

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

However, the ACCC says all consumers need to do is exercise some caution when they are purchasing their furry friend.

"The safest option is to only buy or adopt a pet you can meet in person and if you cannot do that during the current lockdown restrictions, consider putting the search on hold," Ms Rickard said.

"Scam websites can look quite convincing, so try not to fall for the adorable puppy pictures they post, and remember, if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

"Research the seller by running an internet search using the exact wording in the ad and do a reverse image search for pictures of the specific puppy, as you're likely to be dealing with a scammer if you find matching images or text on multiple websites.

"If you are in doubt, seek advice from a reputable breeders association, vet or local pet shop."

If you think you have been scammed, see for information on what to do.