BBB warning pet owners of missing pet scam

Investigators

For many, our pets are like family and because of that, there’s a new warning about a missing pet scam that’s making its way across the country. It involves scammers trolling social media.

11-yr-old Molly the black lab whose owner says is just like a child to him if she were to get lost he’d be devastated.

“It would be heartbreaking,” said Bob Chapman. “She’s a great part of our lives.”

He says if she got lost, he and his wife would “do everything possible,” to get her back.

When a pet goes missing, the traditional way to find it would be to post a missing pet flier around the area where it disappeared.

But these days, more and more owners are turning to social media for help—and scammers are taking notice.

“They are trying to get some money out of you so they say they have your missing pet,” says Kayla Gilbert of the BBB of Eastern North Carolina.

In reality, all the scammers have is your contact information and a social media post describing your pet.

For Bob Chapman that wouldn’t be enough.

“I probably wouldn’t bite on something like that,” he said. “I’d have to have proof.”

The BBB”s Gilbert says that proof needs to be positive.

“Ask for a photo. Ask for identifying characteristics of your dog to show they truly have your pet,” she said.

To protect yourself from the pet scam, the BBB says you should:

  • Limit the amount of personal information you put out on social media sites when looking for a lost pet
  • Don’t pay a reward till you see your pet in person
  • Never send cash

“They want you to wire money,” says Gilbert. “That’s a huge red flag–it’s a telltale sign of a scam.”

The BBB keeps track of that scam and others on its nationwide “scam tracker” which can show you—right down to your neighborhood—what scams are happening near you.

One other thing to be aware of–if someone on social media says they have your pet ––make the exchange in a public place.

Many local police stations in this area have set up 24-hour monitoring of exchange spots for social media deals.

If you do your exchange at one of those safe sites, you’re less likely to be robbed or hurt.

Those exchange spots are listed online, both locally and nationally. 

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