FRASER Coast animal lovers who want to buy the perfect moggy or pooch are at risk of being ripped off by fraudsters posing online as genuine pet sellers.
Hervey Bay woman Sandra Carling went online to buy two dream kittens last week only to find she could have been duped out of hundreds of dollars.
Ms Carling said she started to become suspicious when she was told she would have to have the pets, advertised as "local", cour- iered up from Melbourne.
Alarm bells rang when she was told hundreds of dollars would need to be transferred into a Western Union account.
"They said over an international call that their bank account wasn't operational and told me where my nearest post office was to make a deposit," Ms Carling said.
An immediate payment was soon requested by "Uship air transport service", with a listed address which Ms Carling found to be an abandoned shack in Millicent, South Australia.
Ms Carling said the scam was "widespread" after similar responses were given by 20 other pet advertisers online.
ScamWatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said classified scams, which include online pet adoption frauds, had racked up about $660,000 last year from 800 Queenslanders who believed the "advertisers".
Ms Carling now thinks adopting pets saved from the pound is the way to go and is now caring for a dog named Brian from Wide Bay Animal Rescue.
A scammer may:
Offer the animal on a local site, but then say the animal is actually in another location where you can't see it
Say they will use a courier or "pet delivery service" that you have to pay for
To report online scam activity, visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's ScamWatch online at http://www.scamwatch.gov.au.