SPCA Warns of New Scam Targeting Pet Owners

(PatriotWise.com) — The Erie County, NY, SPCA is raising the alarm about a scam targeting people with lost pets, WGRZ in Buffalo reported.

According to the SPCA, a woman looking for her lost cat informed SPCA employees that she received a call from someone claiming to be from a local animal shelter who said her cat had been found but was struck by a car and needed expensive surgery immediately. The caller told the woman to send money via Apple Pay, CashApp, PayPal, or Venmo.

Fortunately, the woman sensed a rat and refused to send any money.

The SPCA’s Jillian LeBlanc told WGRZ that no shelter would ask people to use a digital payment service while effectively “holding their animal hostage.”

LeBlanc said scammers target vulnerable people, particularly exploiting their “sense of urgency.”

Chances are, the scammer got the woman’s number from one of the “lost cat” notices people commonly post online and around the neighborhood.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips to protect yourself from those seeking to exploit a lost pet.

The BBB recommends that missing pet posts on social media should omit physical descriptions of the pet. That way, if anyone calls claiming to have found the pet, you can verify the person by asking that they describe the pet’s appearance.

To confirm the caller is on the up-and-up, ask them to send a photo of the pet. If the caller refuses, gets defensive, or offers an endless array of excuses, that is a big red flag.

If someone calls claiming to have found a pet, ask for their phone number so you can call them back. Scammers frequently use what is known as “spoofed” numbers to make it appear as if they are calling from another location.

Never, under any circumstances, agree to send money or provide a prepaid debit card to anyone who calls for any reason.

Pet owners should always get their pets microchipped by their vet. Pets should also wear an ID collar. Newer models of ID tags are now available with GPS tracking.

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