There has been a worrying rise in fraudulent dog sales online, and as aresult Sandy Trujillo has launched Puppy Scam Awareness Australia (PSAA).

PSAA is a website and Facebook page that helps owners find a reputablebreeder, report scams, and provide support for victims of scams.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), therehave been 2,544 reports of pet scams with losses over $300,000 this year, asof September 2021, compared to 498 complaints in 2019.

Sandra Trujillo, Founder of PSAA, believes the ACCC number could be far higherwithout the assistance of organisations such as PSAA.

“We shut down around 200 fraudulent websites a month. And that’s just thewebsites, there are other online marketplaces and Facebook pages we dealwith.”

Trujillo started the website after she fell victim to a scam herself andwanted to prevent the same thing happening to others.

“I’m generally a rescue person. I’ve never really bought a dog from a breederbefore in my life, so didn’t really know about associations. It’s my ownignorance. I went to the classifieds and got scammed.

“I just got really angry because COVID had just started, and everybody waslosing their jobs. It was the most horrible time when it was all unclear andsort of scary. So based on that, it just made me angry that there aredespicable people out there willing to rip people off like that, and not thinktwice and be able to sleep at night.”

The website assists people in choosing a breeder by listing both knownscammers and a list of reputable breeders. Potential owners can also find apuppy buyers guide and victim support information on the steps to take if youfind yourself a victim of a scam.

Trujillo said the most important thing to do is to report the scam, despitemany of the scammers being based overseas.

“I was discouraged by police to put a report through because their attitudewas that they’re based overseas and there’s not much we can do. And at thetime, I agreed, but the more I’ve dug into this, I’ve realised they’re notoverseas. That’s the wrong way to assume things.

“This is why I say to my victims. When you go to local police do not let themturn your way. You must fill out a Fraud Report form. If you fill out theform, they must give you an ‘E’ number. And if you have and ‘E’ number, theymust investigate.”

While most of the scammers are based overseas, there is often a local elementat play, whether that be a local bank account or Australian based connection.Once the local aspect is identified, the ACCC, police, and AustralianFinancial Crime Exchange (AFCX) can begin shutting down the fraudulent bankaccounts.

Tagged: Puppy Scam, Puppy Scam Awareness Australia

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