A warning has been issued by police over fraudsters claiming to be selling puppies online.
Staffordshire Police say they have seen a rise in such incidents over the past week and are now urging people to be wary when buying puppies and dogs online.
Social media-based selling sites are being used by scammers and officers are warning people that even when paying for a puppy via bank transfer, people may not get their money back from the bank.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "Please be vigilant when browsing animals for sale and do everything you can to make sure the adverts are from genuine sellers before parting with any money.
"If anything arouses suspicion at all or doesn't seem to quite add up, please, please don't send them any money."
Anyone wanting to report any suspicious sellers, or who does fall victim to any fraud, is asked to send a direct message to Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter.
Some cases have seen people hand over hundreds of pounds to end up losing their money and not getting the puppy either as the scammers post adverts which look genuine, including pictures and details of puppies, which turn out to be fake.
There has been a huge rise in the number of people wanting pets, particularly dogs, during the pandemic for company during the lockdowns. This has led to a rise in scams and thefts.
The demand for dogs has been so high, there have even been reports of scammers posing as RSPCA officials going round in a van trying to steal pets. They drive around until they spot a dog walker and stop them, claiming they need to check the pet for its microchip as they have had reports of thefts. They attempt to get the owner to put their dog in the back of the van to be 'scanned'.
One dog walker out with his collie was approached but the men fled in the van when he challenged them.
They can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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