We are asking residents to remain vigilant to a scam involving puppies for adoption on Facebook Marketplace.
The scam involves fraudsters disguised as real people advertising puppies, like a three-month old Dachshund, for adoption.
The post is usually accompanied by photographs of a puppy and asks buyers to send a private message to the seller if they are interested in the offer.
The seller then advises potential buyers that while they don’t have to pay for the puppy, they will need to pay for delivery. The buyer sends their address to the seller and pays the delivery fee, but no puppy arrives, and the buyer is left out of pocket.
It’s been reported that the buyer’s home address has been shared with other buyers who opt to collect the puppy themselves. They arrive at someone else’s home address only to find out the puppy doesn’t exist.
We’re asking the public to be wary of similar posts on buy and sell sites like Facebook Marketplace, so they avoid falling victim to the scam.
Fraud Protect and Prevent Officer Sharon Hall, said: “It’s easy to see how people can fall in love with images of adorable animals on websites or on buy and sell sites online. However, fraudsters will exploit this and use it as the perfect opportunity to get victims to part with their money.
“If you can’t see the puppy to verify it is genuine, chances are it is a scam. It’s also important to check the language that’s being used in the post. Does it make sense, or does it sound as if they’ve used a translation programme? Never send your private details to anyone if you haven’t verified their identity or the product/s they are selling online. If you come across any suspicious adverts or sellers, you can use the online marketplace’s report function to report them.”
Stay safe from fraud
When purchasing a pet, never give a deposit upfront until you have seen the animal and are quite happy that what you are purchasing is what you want. If you’re unsure and have your suspicions, don’t send any money or your private details until you’re certain an animal or product is genuine.
Under Lucy’s Law, you can no longer buy a puppy or kitten in England from a third-party (someone who is not a breeder) that is under the age of 6 months old.
Beware of adverts stating that they will courier the pet to you and asking you to cover costs upfront. Do your research before parting with your money. There are companies that do courier pets, so it’s advisable to check what company are doing the transport and contact that company yourself (not from a link from the seller) to verify the sale and transportation.
No matter what animal you are buying, make sure you research as to who you are buying from and that they are a legitimate seller. If you’re purchasing an item from an online marketplace, view the seller’s feedback history before going ahead with the purchase.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online.