Dog Scams
Posted: Tuesday, Jun 27
Dog Scams

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Dog Scams

It is intriguing how people find so many ways to pull innocent people into emotional traps. These scammers strike at a time when people are most vulnerable and use techniques that seem completely harmless. One such scam that gained (un)popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic has been the dog or puppy scam, which still continues.


What is the dog / puppy / pet scam?

Scammers advertise rare or valuable dog breeds for sale online. They publish pictures and provide believable details regarding training, vaccines, and micro chipping. They claim to deliver at any location, and even go as far as to cater to interstate buyers too. They take advantage of restricted travel or customs restrictions, they then ask for online payments up front before sending the alleged “pet”. Once the payment is received, the scammers stop all communication with the buyer, and the said pet never arrives. Needless to say, they usually utilise fake identities.


When did it start?

The puppy scam has been doing rounds in one iteration or another for over a decade. But it resurfaced considerably during the Covid-19 peak between March and May 2020. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claims that Australians lost about $300,000 to puppy scams within these months in the year 2020. This is nearly 500% higher than the average annual losses to the scam.


Why pets?

Social distancing, isolation and lockdown during the pandemic had been a cause for loneliness amongst many Australians. People could not meet family and friends, many turned to adopting pets to ease their anxiety. The travel restrictions provided a great justification for scammers to evade any requests to physically see the pet.


How to stay safe?

This notorious scam has a standard, but effective, formula making it somewhat identifiable. The perpetrators overwhelmingly:

Claim that the dog is at a remote location to avoid showing the real thing

Ask for a price that seems to good to be true

Display urgency

Ask for complete and immediate online payment

Most of these advertisements have evolved through natural selection to be highly convincing. So if you notice any of the above, be extra cautious and insist on seeing the pet in real life before making any payment; even a deposit. Use the exact phrases from the ad to check if it appears on multiple websites. If you are dealing with an overseas pet breeder, ensure they are established and reputable. It is also a good idea to seek assistance from vets and local pet shops on using secure adoption channels.


For more information, news, alerts and help on scams visit the Australian Government’s Scamwatch. And remember; if you are a victim of a scam, you can report the incident to the ACCC here.

Stay vigilant. As the old wise saying goes – “Caveat emptor”.

Karissa Breen
Karissa Breen, crowned a LinkedIn ‘Top Voice in Technology’, is more commonly known as KB. A serial Entrepreneur that Co-Founded the TMFE Group, a holding company and consortium of several businesses all relating to cybersecurity including, an industry-leading media platform, a marketing agency, a content production studio, and the executive headhunting firm, MercSec. KBI.Media is an independent and agnostic global cyber security media company led by KB at the helm of the journalism division. As a Cybersecurity Investigative Journalist, KB hosts her flagship podcast, KBKast, interviewing cybersecurity practitioners around the globe on security and the problems business executives face. It has been downloaded in 65 countries with more than 300K downloads globally, influencing billions in cyber budgets. KB asks hard questions and gets real answers from her guests, providing a unique, uncoloured position on the always evolving landscape of cybersecurity. As a Producer and Host of the streaming show,, she sits down with experts to demystify the world of cybersecurity and provide genuine insight to businesses executives on the downstream impacts cybersecurity advancement and events have on our wider world.
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