WEST SENECA, NY — The SPCA Serving Erie County is Warning Pet Owners About Scams In which callers target people with lost pets.
A woman came to the SPCA last week, desperate to find her lost cat, and while she was there she told employees that someone had called her and claimed to be a different, local animal. It’s from the shelter. The scam caller said they had a cat but it had been hit by a car and needed expensive life-saving surgery immediately.
The scammer said a deposit was required to perform the surgery and that they would return the cat afterward — but first, the person needed to send hundreds of dollars through PayPal, Venmo, the Cash app, or Apple Pay. .
“We’re not going to ask people to use Venmo, PayPal, CashApp, those kinds of things, basically holding their animals hostage for payment. That’s not what we do,” Jillian said. A lot of other shelters wouldn’t do that,” Jillian said. LeBlanc, social media coordinator for SPCA Serving Erie County.
The lady found it suspicious and never sent any money.
“Fraudsters try to prey on vulnerable people. Scams have a sense of urgency. If you’re missing your pet and someone who’s in that situation, it’s definitely worth it.” will pull at your heart rate, and of course you will act first and think later,” LeBlanc said.
The scammer likely got the woman’s number from her “lost pet” post online.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to protect yourself from scammers who claim to have your lost pet:
- Limit information in your social posts: If you post on Facebook or other social media, leave out information about unique physical attributes. This can help you verify if someone has found your pet.
- Watch out for fake numbers: If you get a call from someone claiming to have your pet, ask them for a phone number where you can call them back. Fraudsters often spoof phone numbers, so they appear to be calling from somewhere else.
- Ask for a photo: If a caller claims to have your pet, ask them to send a current photo. If the “finder” gets defensive or makes a lot of excuses, that’s a red flag.
- Never invest money or use a prepaid debit card to pay someone you don’t know. It is similar to sending cash.
- Microchip and/or ID tag your pet: Consider having your pet microchipped, and make sure they always wear a collar and ID tag. To track your pet’s location, new ID tags can be purchased with GPS trackers.
- Call the police if your pet has been stolen, or if you see someone else trying to sell your pet online.