An Australian start-up has launched an online platform to tackle the surge of puppy scammers, making it easier and safer for prospective pet owners to find their fur companion.
It’s not surprising that the recent pandemic has led to a significant increase in pet ownership, with many choosing to buy or adopt a dog or cat to keep them company through the lengthy lockdowns.
But this recent increase in people buying pets has sadly also led to an increase in those wanting to take advantage of them – puppy scammers.
Australian start-up, PETspot, is using technology to battle the increase in puppy scammers, allowing safe pet purchases to take place through its online platform.
According to the ACCC, as of 30 September 2021, there had been 2,544 reports of pet scams with losses totaling more than three million dollars this year, compared with just 498 complaints in 2019.
PETspot, run by three University of Technology Sydney alumni, has launched an online platform that independently verifies breeders and guarantees the buyers’ money once a payment is made, offering prospective pet owners a safe and simple way to find a companion responsibly.
Nick Figliano, the 23-year-old co-founder of PETspot said he came up with the idea for the company after he was nearly scammed out of thousands of dollars when trying to buy a puppy.
“I realised I was dealing with a scammer before I handed over any money, but many others aren’t so lucky.
“The industry is purely cash-based and there was no payment system that covers you for pet scams — until now. That’s where PETspot comes in, providing a secure way to pay for a dog or puppy and linking buyers directly with responsible sources. We’ve created Australia’s first payment system that is built specifically for pets.
“We’re confident in providing consumers with a guarantee of the safety of their transaction because of the rigorous checks and balances we have in place before a breeder is allowed to list themselves on our website,” he says.
Mr Figliano teamed up with two of his mates, Joseph Commisso and Jeremy Lay, to start PETspot and with the onset of COVID-19 the business has taken off.
There are now more than 200 authenticated breeders on the website and to date, three million dollars worth of dogs and puppies have found a home through the platform.
PETspot has created a strenuous code of ethics to fact-check dog breeders which includes providing proof of registration with regulatory bodies, showing health tests of the litter of puppies and an identity check.
For more information, visit www.thepetspot.com.au. If you have been the victim of a pet scam, you can report it to the ACCC via Scam Watch: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/.
Top tips to avoid being scammed
NSW Police has previously shared some tips for ensuring prospective pet owners do not fall victim to these scams.
- If the advertised price of a pedigree puppy looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Make arrangements to meet the puppy in person if possible.
- Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for upfront payment via money order or wire transfer.
- If you are in doubt, seek advice from someone in the industry such as a reputable breeders association, vet or local pet shop.
A NSW police spokesperson warned people to be cautious when making purchases online. “These scams start by sourcing images of sought-after dog breeds and posting them online for sale; often at a lower price than other breeders,” she said.
“During the current pandemic, many scammers are also taking advantage of people not being able to travel to meet the puppy in person and charge higher fees to transport the dog interstate.
“If you think you have been scammed, we urge you to contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.”