- Police have taken a bite out of an alleged online puppy scam in Sydney's west
- Investigators say families were left heartbroken and out-of-pocket by fraudsters
- Numerous individuals spent thousands on purebred dogs that never arrived
- A man, 27, has been arrested and charged in relations to the alleged scheme
An alleged online puppy scam duping potential pet owners out of thousands of dollars has been busted by dogged detectives.
NSW Police arrested a hairy-armed man, 27, in Sydney's west on Wednesday over a number of fake advertisements placed on online trading websites.
He was later charged with 16 counts of fraud.
Investigators from the Nepean Police Area Command say several individuals across Australia sent money in exchange for purebred dogs that never arrived - leaving many families heartbroken and out-of-pocket.
'Following extensive inquiries, investigators, with the assistance from specialist tactical officers, arrested a 27-year-old man at a home at Oxley Park about 8am today,' NSW Police said.
The adverts claimed to be selling a blue Staffordshire bull terrier puppy.
Since July police have been investigating numerous reports from individuals in Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT and NSW, that had falling victim to the alleged scam.
Vinnie Ward said he and his family were 'gutted' when they realised the cute puppy they paid for was actually a fake.
'We fell in love with this incredibly cute puppy after finding him online and couldn't wait to add him to our family,' Mr Ward said.
'When we discovered this puppy was never real or for sale, it was very heartbreaking. I really encourage people to be safe when purchasing puppies online.'
Detective Inspector Jason Pietruskza, warned people to be cautious before making any online purchases.
'These scams start by sourcing images of sought-after dog breeds and posting them online for sale; often at a lower price than other breeders,' Det Insp Pietruskza said.
'During the current pandemic, many scammers are also taking advantage of people not being able to travel to meet the puppy in person and charge higher fees to transport the dog interstate.
'If you think you have been scammed, we urge you to contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.'
The arrest follows the news that a former AFL star was also caught up in the cruel Internet scam and conned out of $2,850.
Melbourne Demons midfielder Andrew Leoncelli was searching on Gumtree for Staffordshire bull terrier puppies for his children when a Google ad popped up on the page for a breeder's website.
He said the sellers website appeared to be reputable with guarantees and testimonials.
But after sending the money and exchanging a series of emails, the breeder cut contact.
Leoncelli now believes he was the target of a highly sophisticated overseas crime syndicate.
'My children were tugging at the heartstrings and my partner really wanted the puppy, but the next day after the money had cleared they were being elusive and refused to answer my calls,' he told the Herald Sun.
NSW Police told Daily Mail Australia: 'The two scams are not connected despite allegedly selling the same breed of dog.'