(File Photo)

A Saanich woman is out thousands of dollars after trying to purchase a puppy from an online site which turned out to be a scam.

After responding to a Facebook Marketplace listing a Maltese puppy for sale, the seller – who claimed to reside in America – directed the Saanich buyer to a website listing dogs for sale. 

To purchase the dog, the scammer requested a money transfer.

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Once received, the scammer continued to request additional money transfers for fees such as medical shots, licencing, and registration. The seller would threaten that if more money wasn’t sent, the welfare of the puppy would be at risk.

Following the transaction, the victim’s credit card company notified her that the purchase was likely fraudulent. 

After the Saanich woman questioned the seller, the scammer then told her to purchase and send pre-paid Visa gift cards or else they would notify the police.

“These scammers often resort to threats to defraud their victims of as much of their money as possible,” said Cst. Markus Anastasiades in a press release.

Out of fear, the victim purchased 15 gift cards that had been tampered with containing altered barcodes.

Once these cards were loaded by the teller, the money was directly sent to the scammer.

“We have recently started to see these altered gift cards being reported to police, which demonstrates the level at which these criminals will go to defraud the general public,” said Anastasiades.

Saanich police are advising the public to purchase pets locally from a credible breeder that can be met in person before payment is made.  

With Christmas shopping now in full swing,  police also advise shoppers using gift cards to inspect the barcodes on the back to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with before making a purchase. 

In this case, the actual card was replaced with a blank card with a barcode sticker.

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