During the pandemic, many Australians have sought to adopt a puppy or kitten. Pets are a great addition to the family and also bring a sunshine of positivity in these uncertain times.
However, puppy/kitten scams are a rising form of online fraud. Australians have lost approximately $300,000 to puppy and kitten scams during the pandemic (ACCC, 2020).
These scams involve an unsuspecting victim coerced into believing they’re purchasing a puppy/kitten for adoption. Scammers advertise puppies/kittens through fake ads and ask interested would-be customers to send money for the cost of adoption and for any costs for supposedly transporting the animal to their location.
Any payment goes directly to the scammer, not to the advertised pet agency and the payee does not actually receive a pet.
From March to July, Monoova has resolved 40 cases of puppy/kitten scams and recovered client funds totaling approximately $30,000.
The Case of a Corgi Puppy
Last month, one of our clients had a customer who experienced a puppy scam. The customer was led to believe that they were paying for a Corgi puppy and additional transportation costs.
The customer transferred $2000 to the scammer. Fortunately, Monoova was able to fully recover the customer’s funds. This was done through contacting the customer’s bank, relevant NSW police and by ultimately suspending the scammer’s account number.
Monoova first deactivated the scammer’s account number and then contacted our client. We informed them that the funds held in their customer’s account number had been involved in unlawful activity (puppy scam). Fortunately, the funds were still on their platform and were available for recovery. This isn’t always the case as scammers tend to move these fraudulent funds quite quickly.
Our client remitted the funds back to Monoova and we were able to process a full refund for the customer.
4 tips to avoid being scammed
- Spot Impostors: Scammers can claim to be from legitimate businesses or even create a fake business name. Be sure to read online reviews about a seller or a pet adoption agency.
- Don’t Pay Upfront: Never transfer funds to a sudden request. Don’t pay upfront without actually seeing the pet first. Scammers tend to use stock photos of animals to create fake ads.
- Research Phone Numbers: Make sure to call the company number registered. If you have any doubt, you can search online to see if people have reported certain phone numbers as fraudulent.
- More Research: Check the sellers/pet agency website to see if they are legitimate. Be sure to compare with other official websites such as the RSPCA. Scammers often use fake addresses or even addresses registered to someone else. If in doubt – hold out!