Owners of lost pets: watch out for these scams

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Several scams will leave pet owners poorer and still without their furry friend, the BBB warns

Earlier this month, we reported on a text message scam that targets owners of missing pets. Victims of the Pay-Me-First Scam are contacted by a person claiming to have found their lost pet and promised to have their pet returned in exchange for a monetary reward.

But the scammers are not actually in possession of the pet, and sending money will not result in the pet’s return. The scammer simply acquired the worried pet owner’s phone number from an ad or public social media post and saw an opportunity to make a quick buck.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only lost pet scam to watch out for. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be aware of a few other scams that prey on the emotions of missing pet owners.

Lost pet scams

If you included your contact information in an ad for a missing pet, be wary of the following lost pet scams.

  • The Truck Driver Scam. In this scam, you are contacted by a person claiming to be a long-haul truck driver who says he came across your pet while driving. He’ll ask you to send or wire money so that he can send your pet back to you or have it boarded until he can send your pet back with another truck driver who is traveling toward your home.
  • The Tag Team Scam. As its name implies, this scam involves two scammers working together. You will receive a call from someone who thinks they have your pet. After a conversation intended to extract information about your pet, they will apologize and say that they do not have your pet after all. They will then pass along information about your pet to a partner, who will have plenty of accurate information about your pet and will attempt to collect reward money in advance.
  • The Airline Ticket Scam. If you get a call from someone claiming your pet somehow ended up in another state, be wary. In this scam, victims are asked to send money for a kennel and a plane ticket in order to have their pet shipped back. But just like the other scams, the caller does not actually have the pet and owners will not hear from them again after they send money.

Tips to avoid falling victim

Before putting up a flyer or public social media post about a missing pet, be sure to follow these tips from the BBB to keep from falling victim to a scam.

  • Include only essential information. If you must post an ad, withhold some information about your pet. Callers should be able to tell you about your pet’s unique markings or physical attributes.
  • Ask them for a phone number. Scammers often use spoofed numbers in order to appear to be calling from somewhere else. If you get a call from someone who says they have your pet, ask them for a phone number where you can call them back.
  • Ask for a detailed description. If someone claims to have your pet, ask them to describe something about the pet that wouldn’t be visible in photos you posted.
  • Never send money. Don’t wire or send money to someone claiming to have your pet. Charging a ransom to return a lost pet is illegal.

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