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Tech & Science An online puppy scam conned Rebecca out of $800, but her identity could be at risk too

06:20  11 december  2019
06:20  11 december  2019 Source:   msn.com

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The consumer watchdog wants the Federal Government to regulate online platforms more tightly, amid concerns the ongoing problem of puppy scams is now leading to identity theft.

In addition to advertising puppies , con artists also may pretend to offer kittens, parrots, or other pets. To help detect a possible scam , conduct an online image search of the puppy ’s photo to see where else the picture is If the same picture shows up in multiple places, it could be part of a scam .

Rebecca's daughter fell in love with this puppy after seeing photos of it online.© Supplied Rebecca's daughter fell in love with this puppy after seeing photos of it online.

When Melbourne woman Rebecca* saw a dachshund puppy called Gina for sale on the website Trading Post, she and her young daughter loved its dappled "lilac" coat and blue eyes.

"My daughter wanted a dog and had been pressuring [me] for a long time," Rebecca said.

"I had finally caved in."

But the puppy didn't exist.

Instead of getting a new dog, Rebecca has instead given key identity documents, her address and money to a complete stranger who conned her with a concocted story.

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When Julien Armstrong-Kelly was conned out of more than R5‚000 after she tried to buy a puppy online ‚ the KwaZulu-Natal resident was horrified. “I feel so bad that my identity is being used to scam others‚” said the real Armstrong-Kelly this week. A too -good-to- be -true price is the first red flag.

You can change this preference below. We didn't expect to find newly born puppies abandoned in such a cruel way. It turned out to be one of the most heartbreaking cases of animal cruelty we have dealt with: there were several puppies dumped in a bag and simply left there to die.

Rebecca is an educated woman with a PhD and she said the experience had left her feeling "stupid".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been warning Australians about so-called "puppy scams" for years, with consumers reporting $250,000 in losses this year.

Traditionally the concern has been that people are losing money, but now the ACCC is worried that scammers are going one step further by stealing people's identities too.

The ACCC said it was highly unlikely Rebecca would get her money back, even though the dog did not exist.© Supplied The ACCC said it was highly unlikely Rebecca would get her money back, even though the dog did not exist.

Exchanges about puppies ended with a threat

Rebecca contacted Gina's seller via the Trading Post website and received an email back from a person calling themselves Mark.

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Mark wrote that he lived in Queensland and had two dachshund puppies for sale that had belonged to his mother, who had just died in Darwin.

"We can't keep the puppies here in such condition because each time we see them, we keep thinking of her," Mark wrote to Rebecca.

The emails got off to a promising start, as Mark assured Rebecca that the puppy would be delivered microchipped, fully vaccinated and with a clean bill of health.

Mark told Rebecca to give him her address and contact details, and transfer him a deposit for Gina over wire transfer.

Rebecca remembered thinking at the time that Mark had "a funny turn of phrase", but her daughter really wanted the puppy, so she went ahead and wired Mark just over $800.

She also sent him her drivers licence and a photocopy of her council rates, because Mark said that he needed them to prove her address and transfer the puppy ownership.

Rebecca said she got suspicious when Mark also asked her to send him "government ID", which wasn't a phrase she'd heard used in Australia.

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You can check your credit score for free using Experian’s FreeCreditReport.com site; you can ask your bank if they provide free credit scores; you can even request one directly from FICO themselves—though they’ll make you pay for it.

Take this quiz to find out if you are protecting your identity or playing fast and loose with it. That information could end up in hands of scam artists, who buy the data or hack the data brokers' If you're a victim of identity theft -- or worried that you could be -- you can request a credit freeze to

When she expressed reservations over the request for her passport, Mark wrote "trust me everything is going to be fine", insisting that it was needed in order to deliver the puppy.

Rebecca rang the mobile number listed on the Trading Post advertisement and a man with what she called a heavy "African-French" accent picked up.

"That's when I knew I was probably being scammed," Rebecca said.

Rebecca said she had a heated conversation with the man and when she told him that she wanted her money back and she was going to the police, he told her: "Don't you dare."

"I was really annoyed at myself. And I was scared enough when I realised he had my licence and address," she said.

"Yeah, I was pretty scared then."

Rebecca went to the police but she said they told her they could not investigate it, as the scammer was most likely based overseas and not in the Australian jurisdiction.

In a statement, Victoria Police confirmed it had referred Rebecca to the Australian Federal Police and the ACCC-run body ScamWatch.

Scammers target the 'big business' of identity theft

The ACCC's deputy chair Delia Rickard said it was highly unlikely Rebecca would ever get her money back.

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Nearly 15,000 people were conned out of more than 0 million in 2016. You may think this could never happen to you A romance scam typically works like this: The criminal will set up an account on a dating site with fake information and photos, which The profile seems too good to be true actually.

A widow diagnosed with breast cancer was conned into losing her mother’s care-home fees.

Ms Rickard said what was more concerning than Rebecca losing her money, was the fact she had also given the scammer photocopies of her drivers licence and other materials.

"That's a common thing used in identify theft, when they need to establish your identity through rates and bills. They all go to show you live where you say to do," Ms Rickard said.

"It is really common with almost all types of scams these days that there's an element of identity theft.

"It's big business, identity information. There's a whole dark market in buying it, so you really need to guard your personal identification these days."

Identify theft can lead to scammers taking out loans or credit cards in your name, or even trying to transfer assets or commit crimes using your alias.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 126,300 people were victims of identity theft in the 2014–15 financial year, the latest statistics available.

A 2016 report from the Attorney-General's department estimated identity crime cost Australians $2.2 billion per year.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said people who were scammed online were unlikely to get their money back.© Supplied: ACCC ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said people who were scammed online were unlikely to get their money back.

Calls for more regulation

Ms Rickard said online retailers such as Trading Post and platforms such as Facebook which host online sales "need to be doing considerably more" to stop scammers using their platforms.

Puppy with tail on his forehead gets adopted

  Puppy with tail on his forehead gets adopted A "perfectly healthy" rescue puppy, with a surprising physical feature that makes him extra special, has now been adopted by the founder of the organization who made him famous. Narwhal, the 10-week-old furball who has a small tail-like growth on his forehead, was adopted by Rochelle Steffen, the founder of Mac's Mission -- a nonprofit dog rescue that predominately helps pups with special needs. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.

The bottom line is , never, ever give cash to an online seller for goods undelivered. Always use websites you trust, and never give out Where the really serious damage from scams can occur is when your identity is stolen or your credit cards are compromised. If you think you may have fallen for

Puppies are similar and need to learn how to behavior properly so they can grow into the great dogs we know they can be ! So, lets nip these puppy behavior problems in the bud before they get out of control! It’s your responsibility to keep things that your puppy shouldn’t be chewing on out of reach.

A quick search of Trading Post's website links to dozens of advertisements for purebred puppies which appear to be scams.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Trading Post said it had removed the post that scammed Rebecca from its site.

"Each advertisement that is placed is individually checked first by our AI systems and then by our large human moderation team to be as sure as possible based on the information provided that the ad is from a legitimate seller," the statement said.

"In many cases, we even call the seller on the telephone prior to publishing the ad where we cannot be sure of the legitimacy of an advertisement based on the information provided in the ad and by the seller.

"Bad actors and fraudulent people are unfortunately a reality in today's highly connected world, and our constant and growing investment in our trust and safety team is a reflection of how seriously we take this issue."

Ms Rickard said Rebecca had been lucky to even get a response from Trading Post about her case, which often did not happen when people complained about scams to websites.

She said the ACCC had recommended to the Federal Government, as part of its Digital Platforms Inquiry, that there be a digital ombudsman to help regulate online platforms such as Facebook that allow online sales.

"There's no one silver bullet but we do believe this will help put pressure onto platforms to keep scammers off their sites," she said.

In a statement, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who is responsible for responding to the Digital Platforms Inquiry, said the Government was finalising its response to the ACCC's recommendations.

"Once finalised, the Government will release its response which will ensure that our regulatory framework is fit-for-purpose in the digital age," he said.

The experience of the fake dog hasn't completely scared Rebecca off the idea of getting a puppy.© Supplied The experience of the fake dog hasn't completely scared Rebecca off the idea of getting a puppy.

In hindsight, Rebecca said there are several things on the advertisement for Gina that should have tipped her off that it was a scam, such as the "classically American" look of the woman in photographs with the puppy.

She has since put passwords on her bank accounts and hopes her identity will be safe. She does not expect to get her money back.

But she has not been entirely persuaded off buying a puppy online and has her eye on another dachshund puppy for sale in Sydney that she will get her brother to go and meet first.

"We're going to call it Sizzle," she said.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity

An online puppy scam conned Rebecca out of $800, but her identity could be at risk too .
The consumer watchdog wants the Federal Government to regulate online platforms more tightly, amid concerns the ongoing problem of "puppy scams" is now leading to identity theft. When Melbourne woman Rebecca* saw a dachshund puppy called Gina for sale on the website Trading Post, she and her young daughter loved its dappled "lilac" coat and blue eyes."My daughter wanted a dog and had been pressuring [me] for a long time," Rebecca said."I had finally caved in." But the puppy didn't exist.

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