Police are urging the public to be wary following an influx of scams involving fake puppies and cryptocurrency.
Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Allan from the Auckland City District Financial Crime Unit says police are seeing incidences of scammers posting puppies for sale on trading websites using puppy pictures taken from the internet.
“When the victim expresses interest in purchasing one of the dogs, they are told they need to pay $2,000 on average for the puppy,” said Det Snr Sgt Allan.
He said the preferred methods of payment of the scammers are cryptocurrency, predominantly Bitcoin, paid directly into the scammers wallet, or via international money remitter where the victims funds are sent directly to an overseas account.
“After payment is made, the victim is provided with a delivery date for the puppy.”
“As this date approaches, the scammer insists the victim needs to pay another fee in order for the puppy to be released, these excuses often include transportation, insurance or vaccination fees.”
It is usually at this point that the victim realises they are being scammed, Det Snr Sgt Allan warned.
“While the scam may seem unusual or easy to spot for some, for an unassuming wishful puppy owner, this can cause thousands of dollars of loss, and by the time they have realised, it can be too late,” he said.
Some potential red flags to look out for if you’re considering buying a puppy online:
• The communication from these types of scammers will appeal unusual, they will often use colourful text, Emojis and exhibit poor grammar.
• The phone number is likely to be an overseas number, and not a local NZ one.
• If the seller is requesting payment via cryptocurrency, they may not be a legitimate seller.
Police say people need to do some research on puppy sellers before paying any type of money to anyone.
Police recommend the following safety tips if you’re considering buying a puppy online:
• Do your due diligence on the breeder or seller.
• Search up the company – a common transportation company that these scammers claim to use is United Shippers, a quick google search shows an article detailing this pet delivery scam on the first web page.
• If buying from a pet store, only buy from a legitimate site or retailer.
• Don’t remit or pay any money into any offshore accounts – the scammers claim the puppy to be located in New Zealand somewhere, so why would you need to send money to an overseas account?
• Trust your gut instinct – If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
• Be wary of approaches online from people that you do not know – some victims are being approached about puppy sales direct through social media.
Police say it is also a common follow-up scam for victims to be contacted by people offering their services to recover the funds via the payment of a fee.
“Don’t pay anyone anything more as it will be the same group of scammers,” said Det Snr Sgt Allan.