An international scam is targeting local pet lovers.

A Whangarei woman, who does not want to be named, alerted the Whangarei Leader after she replied to an advert for an English bulldog puppy.

The ad wanted $600 for the puppy. The only contact details were a Yahoo email address.

She emailed the seller and was told to transfer the money through Western Union because the Christchurch seller was moving to Australia and needed the money as soon as possible.

She went to the Onerahi Post Shop to make the transaction only to be told it was a scam – she was the third person wanting to transfer money for an English bulldog.

She didn’t send the money, but when she got home she emailed the seller saying she had transferred the money and asked for the puppy to be put on the first plane from Christchurch to Whangarei.

She says she was then told the flight number the puppy would arrive on – it never did.

Consumer Affairs Ministry scam communications team spokesman Richard Parlett says this type of scam is very common.

It is a variant on the “upfront money transfer con” in which buyers receive less than they paid for or nothing at all.

“This puppy dog scam isn’t new,” says Mr Parlett.

The ministry receives between 30 to 50 complaints about these types of scams each month – and only about 2 percent are reported.

Mr Parlett says the money in this case was most likely going to someone overseas, so there would be no chance of getting it back.

He congratulates Post Shop staff for letting the customer know about the scam.

This is one of many scams operating in the country.

Mr Parlett says some people have lost their entire life savings through online dating scams while others have lost thousands by depositing tenancy bonds to an overseas landlord only to find out the person doesn’t own the property they were looking at renting.

He says people can visit www.scamwatch.govt.nz for information on the types of scams doing the rounds and how to protect themselves against them.