Pet-buyers are being warned about a scams on Facebook.
We have reports from pages called:
- 'Labradoodle Pups for sale' (2017)
- 'Bulldog Puppies for sale in Australia’ (2015)
When WA ScamNet recieves reports like these we investigate the site and then make a request to Facebook to have the pages shut down.
Labradoodle pups page
WA ScamNet is currently trying to get Facebook to shut down Labradoodle Puppies For Sale (https://www.facebook.com/Labradoodlepupsforsale/).
We reported it on Monday morning when the page had 16,000 likes and it now has over 105,450 likes because of cute photos stolen from Instagram account @otis_gets_noticed, which has put a warning on Insta.
Other posts on the fraudulent page also use stolen pictures. If you make contact they'll ask fees for vet checks, shipping etc. and you won't get anything in return.
Bulldog Puppies page
In the Bulldog case, two consumers reported losing money after trying to buy puppies through the page, prompting the alert. A Western Australian woman lost $2,500 when trying to buy a family pet from a kennel via the Facebook page ‘Bulldog Puppies for sale in Australia’. She ceased sending money when asked to pay an extra $2,000 for transport fees and insurance. There are at least two other similar cases outside WA where the buyers did not receive a puppy.
An investigation by our Consumer Fraud Liaison Officers has found that the money was sent to a New South Wales-based bank account and then wire-transferred to Cameroon and Russia. The bank-account owner who has wire-transferred more than $25,000 in total is also believed to be a victim in the scenario.
The name of an Australian victim of identity theft is being used to perpetrate this scam. Consumer Protection and WA Police Major Fraud Squad ascertained Gavin Bruce Stuart of Queensland was not involved in defrauding people despite his name and driver’s licence had been used during communications between the puppy scammers and consumers.
The scam page used the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. WA ScamNet found the page falsified links to the Australian National Bulldog Club and fraudulently used a breeder’s certificate belonging to Old Mate Australian Bulldogs. Other names used in the scam include Bruce Knight and an identity theft victim Gwen Parkes.
Tips for pet-buyers
- Before paying any money you should see the animal for yourself and if possible its parents too, have it vet-checked and review any papers.
- If you cannot meet the seller, verify their identity and be aware that private sales are unlikely to be covered by consumer law. Double-check any business you are dealing with e.g. do they have a physical address, a landline and ABN (search ASIC). Look for online reviews.
- Consider using a registered local breeder – there is a search function on the Canine Association of Western Australia Dogs West website. For Eastern States breeders there are similar sites, such as Dogs NSW and Dogs Victoria.
- If you have doubts about an online transaction, call WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54 BEFORE the scammers get their paws on your money.
- Read Consumer Protection’s guide for pet-buyers. The RSPCA has a guide too. Tips include considering adopting from a local animal welfare shelter.
- Last but certainly not least, if you are paying for an animal and not taking it away in person at the time of payment, consider using PayPal, which has a dispute resolution service that offers a refund if you do not get what you paid for. The same protections do not exist with bank or wire transfer.