More than £2 million has been lost by those hoping to become pet owners in the past year.

The demand for dogs has soared during the pandemic, with Google searches for “buy a puppy” rising by 166 per cent.

However, those still hoping to acquire their very own pooch are being warned about fake online adverts.

Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, said that there has been a 20 per cent rise in scams.

Criminals seeking to cash in on the lockdown-driven pet boom have raked in an estimated £2.6 million during the 2020/21 financial year.

Read more: The most common dog dilemmas faced by new owners (and how to sort them)

People have lost money after responding to posts advertising dogs and puppies as well as cats and kittens on social media, online marketplaces and – even – pet-selling platforms.

In many cases, animal-lovers were encouraged to hand over funds as a deposit, after being presented cute pictures – only for no…

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