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West Norfolk animal lovers warned about buying pets online

People across the region are being warned to be cautious when buying pets online, after police received a number of reports of fraud.

In the last three weeks, the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which investigates fraud across the region, has received 10 reports of people being tricked out of their money after responding to an advert to buy a puppy online.

On each occasion the buyer has transferred the money to the seller, however when they go to collect the puppy, they find that the address they have been given is incorrect.

Warning over buying a puppy this summer. (14621821)
Warning over buying a puppy this summer. (14621821)

It’s believed one address was given to nine different people, who attended to collect a puppy only to find the homeowner had no knowledge of the advert.

Offenders are using the Covid-19 lockdown as a reason for requesting the money for the puppy before the exchange is due to take place.

Detective Sergeant Kieran Doyle, from the ERSOU’s regional economic crime unit, said: “Sadly there are unscrupulous people who are looking to take advantage of the current lockdown situation by tricking people into handing over money in scams such as this one.

“Not only are people handing over large sums of money for a pet they will never receive, they also have to deal with the emotional fall out and disappointment of the situation.

“We’d urge people to be cautious before buying anything online, but in particular animals such as puppies.

"If someone is requesting full payment before you have physically seen the puppy or if they’ve demanded a bank transfer rather than accepting PayPal or payment on collection, then we would advise you not to go ahead with the sale.

“The fraudster may also request further fees for travel insurance, documentation, or equipment. However this never materialises.

“We’d also ask that you take the time to properly research the seller – in scams such as this the seller’s details are often linked to multiple adverts on several different selling sites, which could be another red flag.”

To help protect yourself from scams like this, Action Fraud have issued the public to do their research, trust their instinct and choose their payment method wisely.

Anyone who has concerns or information about this scam is urged to contact Action Fraud in the first instance by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

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