Durham police are warning the public of an increase in puppy scams since the beginning of the year.
Investigators from the DRPS financial crimes unit have received more than 15 incidents in 2020 where the victim saw an ad online, responded to the ad, sent money with the presumption that they would receive a puppy and never receiving anything in return, according a DRPS report.
In some cases, the fraudster would ask for transport fees, customs fees or medical costs before the dog is delivered. Once the payment is made, they continued to demand money for fees of a non-existent pet.
Police say some of the advertisements would lure their victims with pictures and videos of cute pets. The fraudsters would also offer a pedigree pet at a real low cost. Most of the sellers will often claim they moved further away and sometimes overseas. In one of the incidents, the victim lost more than $1,800 for a puppy which he never received.
Police say there are several things the public can do to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.
- 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 their 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 at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm