Puppy 'scammers' posed as dog rescue centre to con families out of £1,000s

Heartless scammers have been posing online as a dog rescue centre in order to con animal lovers out of thousands of pounds.

The fraudsters set up a fake Facebook site claiming to be Hope Rescue - a small charity in Llanharan, Rhondda Cynon Taf - in an attempt to get families to 'adopt' non-existent puppies for a grand each.

The ruse was eventually rumbled and reported to the police, but not before some had already handed over hefty deposits to secure the dog of their dreams.

"It's a horrible thing to do to anyone," said Vanessa Waddon, founder of Hope Rescue, which takes in a quarter of all strays in Wales.

"Three individuals who had been scammed reported it to us, plus we had others ringing us to check if it was legitimate.

"The scammer asked one person for a bank transfer of £300 before he'd deliver the puppy."

She added that the centre still has no idea how many people actually responded to the adverts, among which was the bogus offer of a 10-week-old French Bulldog called Ruby.

"We reported it to the police initially, and advised the victims to as well.

"Since then the Hope Rescue Facebook page has been given a blue tick to verify it as genuine, so as to ensure this kind of thing can't happen again."