Australian start-up to combat mounting puppy scams

puppy scammers
Photo: ilona75 123rf

Australian start-up, PETspot, is using technology to battle an increasing number of puppy scammers who have emerged in the past 18 months to take advantage of soaring demand for pets due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

According to the ACCC, as of 30 September 2021, there have been 2544 reports of pet scams with losses totalling more than $3 million this year, compared with just 498 complaints in 2019.

PETspot, a start-up run by three University of Technology Sydney alumni, allows safe pet transactions to take place through its online platform. The company independently verifies breeders on the platform and guarantees the buyer’s money once a payment is made, offering buyers a safe and simple way to find a companion responsibly.

Nick Figliano, the 23-year-old co-founder of PETspot, said he came up with the idea for the company after he was nearly scammed out of thousands of dollars when trying to buy a puppy.

“I realised I was dealing with a scammer before I handed over any money, but many others aren’t so lucky,” Figliano said.

The industry is purely cash-based and until now, there has been no payment system that covers purchasers for pet scams. PETspot provides a secure way to pay for a dog or puppy and links buyers directly with responsible sources. 

“We’ve created Australia’s first payment system that is built specifically for pets,” Figliano said.

“We’re confident in providing consumers with a guarantee of the safety of their transaction because of the rigorous checks and balances we have in place before a breeder is allowed to list themselves on our website.”

Figliano teamed up with two of his mates, Joseph Commisso and Jeremy Lay, to start PETspot and with the onset of COVID-19 the business has taken off.

There are now more than 200 authenticated breeders on the website and to date, $3 million dollars’ worth of dogs and puppies have found a home through the platform.

PETspot has created a strenuous code of ethics to fact-check dog breeders which includes providing proof of registration with regulatory bodies, showing health tests of the litter of puppies and an identity check.


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