Unscrupulous breeders and criminal gangs are using fake families to sell sick and illegally bred dogs to unwitting buyers to capitalise on a huge demand for puppies.
Rented houses, seemingly middle-class couples, and fake mothers to litters of puppies have been used to dupe customers into believing they are buying healthy, thoroughbred and “designer” dogs.
The scammers use aliases in apparently legitimate online adverts and falsify documents including vaccination certificates to sell mistreated and imported pets for thousands of pounds that often die within days.
One victim was sold a deaf and blind bulldog puppy with a severe brain condition for nearly £3,000. They named the dog George but within a week he had deteriorated badly and they had to have him put down.