Fraud Awareness

“Scammers play on your emotions”

Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB

Losing a pet feels terrible - you are sad, scared, desperate and wait anxiously for word that someone has found him or her. You’d do anything to get your furry friend back and you may be putting yourself at risk for fraud. PetsData care about and urges you to protect yourself considering the following - the public advertisement about loss of a pet can help you get your pet returned, but it can also open you up to potential scams, makes you the perfect target for a scam artist.

What are the most common scams that target pet owners?

Pay-Me-First: You receive a call or email from a person claiming that he have the lost pet in his possession. Scammer asks that the reward money be sent to him before he return the pet. If the pet owner refuses, scammer will often threaten to hurt the pet (or other) in order to psychologically pressure the pet owner into sending money. Once the scammer gets the money, you will never hear from him again.

Truck Driver: Scammer 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.

Tag Team: You receive a call from scammer who says that they think they have your pet. After talking to you for a while and getting information about your pet, scammer apologize and say that he is sorry, but it turns out that it's not your pet after all. This is a set-up. Scammer then give all the information about your pet to a partner, which will call you in a short time, claiming to have found your pet and using the information received about your pet will try collect any reward money in advance. 

Airline Ticket: Scammer 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 and they'll ship your pet back. Once the pet owner sends the money, the scammer walks away with it, leaving the owner without their pet and less money in their bank account.

Pet Flipping: Scammer stealing pets or claiming lost pets for the sole purpose of selling them to unsuspecting buyers. Flyers and classified ads looking for a pet’s owner can have the unintended consequence of alerting a scammer to a money making opportunity. Buyers of these pets may never know that they were duped. 

 How to prevent falling victim to a pet loss scam?

  • Don’t go out searching alone! Always take a friend with you, especially in unfamiliar neighborhoods.
  • When preparing a flyer or lost report, do not give out any behavioral information. A lost pet may not act the same as when it is at home. They are scared and behavior can change dramatically.
  • Do not give information on a collar. 40% of pets are lost with a collar and found with no collar. There are also times when they are found with a different collar on them.
  • If you have a photo of your pet, make sure it describes them accurately! If not, consider using a line drawing from a breed book that you can find at the local library or online. A photocopy will be sufficient.
  • Always write the word ‘Reward’ on the top of the flyer in large print! This will attract more people. DO NOT GIVE AN AMOUNT; giving an amount may cause you to receive prank calls from people that just want the money! A reward is not a must, but may help!
  • Do not indicate that you think your pet has been stolen! This may actually scare people off and the person returning the pet may have nothing to do with the theft!
  • If you must place an ad, include only essential information. Refrain from providing information about unique markings or physical attributes.
  • 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. Scammers typically do not want you to know any of their personal information.
  • 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. You can also ask them to send a current picture of the pet for you to review.
  • Never wire money or use a prepaid debit card to pay anyone you don’t know. This is a common thread in many types of scams.
  • Always ask for registration paperwork and a bill of sale when purchasing a new pet.
  • Consider having your veterinarian implant an identification microchip into your pet to increase your recovery chances.   

Last updated on 2022.01.06