JULIE-ANNE Morrissey is heartbroken after being duped out of £600 buying a golden retriever as a 50th birthday gift for herself.

She agreed to buy the puppy from an independent trader, known to her as Andrew Truswell, based in Glasgow, through website Dogs and Puppies. Julie-Anne, who is 50 next month, had been saving for her dream pet since January.

The dog was going to cost £325 and the mother of two grown up children, who is a full-time carer for husband Antony, 52, agreed to pay £140 up front, which she did on May 31, and would then transfer the rest after having the puppy for 10 days.

Julie-Anne, of Chippenham Walk, Penhill, said: “He was going to be flown from Glasgow to Bristol Airport, I then had correspondence with the courier, who said the storage for the puppy was unsuitable and he needed more money from me.

“I said I could not afford this but they said I’d get the money back on delivery, so I paid it.

“Then the courier was on again saying there was a problem with the insurance and I’d need to pay between £900 and £1,800.

“They said the puppy would be put in quarantine if we didn’t pay, and we’d face having to pay £60 for every day he was in quarantine or face legal action.

“I was going to work out a way to pay but my husband put his foot down and said no.”

Before refusing to go any further, the Morrisseys had paid an extra £483 in delivery money and vaccinations costs.

“Since reporting the incident to police the couple have not heard from the seller or the person alleging to represent the courier.

The Action Fraud agency believes they were victims of an internet con.

Julie-Anne, who gave up work at Triumph International in 2012 to care for her diabetic husband, said: “The emails I had look legitimate and they obviously preyed on my emotions and how much I wanted a dog.

“I’m feel duped and gutted but I’m trying not to think about it.

“This has really upset me, I look after my disabled husband, we don’t have a great deal of money and this has really marred a big birthday. I wanted to get this story out there and stop others being conned.”

She still hopes to get a golden retriever but will need to save more money. The couple are optimistic they might be able to get some of the money back they paid after Action Fraud has investigated the matter.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “This is an unfortunate incident and we feel for the lady. We encourage people to have a rescue pet rather than buying online.”

John Warwick, founder of Swindon and District Animal Haven, said: “People running these cons target an individual’s emotions and there needs to be tighter regulations.”

Julie-Ann said that she hopes websites such as Dogs and Puppies would show the potential threats of being scammed by traders in a clearer way. She now intends to buy a pet from a vet or dogs home.