Buying a new dog or cat should be an exciting time.

A pet scam is when you receive a different animal to the one you agreed to buy, or the seller takes your money and you do not receive the animal at all.

When buying a dog or cat from a breeder, make sure they are a responsible and registered breeder.

Like other types of scams, be careful of ads on websites, social media platforms and in newspapers from pet sellers that seem too good to be true. Consider whether:

  • the photos are real
  • you've been asked to pay money for the dog or cat before you've seen it in person
  • you've been asked to meet in an unexpected location (like a park or public space)
  • the price is lower than expected
  • you've been asked to pay the full amount upfront.

Make sure:

  • you're allowed to see the animal
  • you've been able to talk in depth with the breeder or seller before placing a deposit 
  • you're comfortable placing a deposit if requested
  • the breeder or seller will provide you with a documented receipt of money paid
  • the animal microchip numbers are valid when you complete a search on the NSW pet registry
  • you buy directly from the breeder and not someone on-selling the animal.

It is often difficult to get money back once it's given to scammers, but if you think you've been scammed:

  • contact your financial institution as soon as possible
  • report the issue to Scamwatch to warn others.
Last updated: 7 November 2023