When pets go missing, scammers follow

By Greg Collier

It only takes a moment. Maybe you left the front door open just a second too long. Or maybe the leash gets yanked out of your hand while on a walk. Before you know it, your pet is long gone, run off to who knows where in the neighborhood. You hope your neighbors are kind enough to let you know if they spot your pet, so you put up notices on platforms like Facebook, Craigslist, and Nextdoor. You even post fliers on telephone poles in the area. However, you’re teased with brief glimpses of hope as people claim that they’ve found your pet, only to find out that they’re scammers.

This is what happened to a woman in Texas when her 17-year-old dog with special needs got out of the family’s home in the blink of an eye. The dog’s owner posted about her lost dog on social media and put out physical fliers that included her phone number. It wasn’t long before people started calling her, claiming to have her dog. One caller asked the woman to enter a verification code to prove she was the dog’s owner. While the report doesn’t state it, this sounds a lot like the Google Voice scam. This is where scammers can get a Google Voice number linked to your phone number and use the Google number to commit future scams.

Another caller said that they were going to harm the dog and sent the woman a picture of a gun. Again, while the report doesn’t mention it, this scammer was probably trying to extort some kind of payment out of the dog’s owner even though they didn’t have the dog.

Unfortunately, the woman has yet to find her lost dog.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening to you and your pet? The first thing you should do before a pet can run off is take them to the vet and get them microchipped. Chipped pets have a much better chance of being returned home. If you need to post fliers or social media posts, use your email address instead of your phone number. Scammers can find a lot of personal information about you if they know your phone number. If someone claims to have your pet, ask them to send a picture of your pet. And if someone claims to have your pet and asks you to wire money or send them gift cards, they do not have your pet and are just trying to scam you.