Losing a pet is a devastating experience. Many reports have been received about scammers who are defrauding heartbroken pet owners in order to line their own pockets and we advise pet owners who have issued an amber alert to be wary of the following pet scams:
“Scammers play on your emotions”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB. “Pet owners who have lost their animals are easy targets for those whose sole intent is to make a quick buck.”
The Pay-Me-First Scam: The lost pet owner receives a phone call from a person claiming that they have the lost pet in their possession. This person asks that the reward money be sent to them before they return the pet. If the pet owner refuses, they will often threaten to hurt the pet in order to pressure the pet owner into sending money. Once the scammer receives the money, they are never heard from again.
The Truck Driver Scam: Someone claiming to be a long-haul truck driver tells you that he came across your pet while on his route. He then asks you to send him money so that he can send your pet back to you, or he may ask you to wire him money to board your pet until he can send your pet back with another truck driver who’s heading your way.
The Tag Team Scam: You receive a call from someone who says that they think they have your pet. After talking to you for a while and getting information about your pet, they apologize and say that they’re sorry, but it turns out that it’s not your pet after all. They then give all the information about your pet to a partner. This is a set-up — in a short time, the scammer uses the information received about your pet only to have a second person call and claim to have found your pet who will try collect any reward money in advance..
The Airline Ticket Scam: Someone calls and claims that your pet somehow ended up in another state. They ask you to send money for a kennel and an airline ticket in order for them to ship your pet back to you. Once the pet owner sends the money, the scammer walks away with it, leaving the owner without their pet and with less money in their bank account.
BBB provides the following tips to keep from falling victim to a pet loss scam:
1. If you must place an ad, include only essential information. Refrain from providing information about unique markings or physical attributes.
2. If you get a call from someone who claims to be out-of-state, ask them for a phone number where you can call them back.
3. If a caller claims to have your pet in their possession, ask them to describe something about the pet that wouldn’t be visible in pictures which may have been posted.
4. Never wire money to anyone you don’t know.
Many pet owners have also had their pets microchipped, as this preventive measure has proven to be effective in bringing lost pets home.