CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you’ve had a pet runaway or get loose somehow, you know how emotionally draining that can be. And wherever there are vulnerabilities, you can bet scammers are nearby.
“If you didn’t reach out for information, they’re reaching out to you then obviously you do want to treat it as an inbound possible scam attempt,” Jason Meza, senior regional director of the Better Business Bureau, said.
A few pet scam attempts have been seen in the Coastal Bend and throughout the country, targeting people who are missing a pet.
The primary one the BBB is seeing is if a person has a lost pet, someone will contact them claiming they found their pet and are asking for some type of reward.
“It’s basically a ransom type of scenario where they’re pretty much holding the pet hostage, but in actuality there’s no pet,” Meza said.
A second kind of scam will have someone asking you to confirm a code sent by the scammer. The scam starts the same way claiming they have your lost pet. Then they'll want to verify you are the owner of the pet.
"Sending back codes or creating this two-way authentication is extremely dangerous for any type of scenario. Because you just don't know who you're giving the keys to, who you're giving access to on your smart phone or your account," said Meza.
Marilyn Litt is the director of Lost Dogs of Texas. She says she’s seeing a scam where people claim they will go look for your lost pet and capture it for a fee.
“All we have to do is move our equipment there to trap your animal, just send us half the money we need. That’s all they’re after is that half of the money because there’s no people, there's no equipment, there’s no moving,” she said.
While people often turn to social media for help with lost pets, Meza suggests if you’re contacted, always get photo or video proof that they have your pets. If they create an excuse it's probably a red flag.
“Going to social media is obviously the great way to share with friends and family," he said. "Just know that you also open yourself up to vulnerability for a scammer to come along to start texting you or creating dialogue saying they have your pet.”
Litt said pet owners are targeted because they're in an emotional state after losing their animal.
“People are just desperate, anxious, they don’t understand what the resources are. So, it sounds reasonable to them,” said Litt.
If you encounter any type of scam you’re encouraged to report it to the BBB and your local law enforcement.
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