A new pet scam scheme has been operating in Scotland recently, and it’s targeting anyone who puts both online or offline advertising searching for their missing pet.
Victims receive text messages from someone who claims to be calling from a vet having found a missing dog or cat. They will also explain the pet needs immediate treatment and is in a life or death scenario, payment is required upfront.
Chief Inspector Brian Shaw told STV News: “We have received reports in recent weeks from people who have been victims of scams involving someone pretending to be calling on behalf of either a vet or charity organization.”
People rush to the bank to withdraw cash believing they are doing their best for their puppy, but it’s a scam instead.
This recent scam is one of many that people need to be aware of, but it’s important for the public to know that vets would never ask for payment upfront and especially not over a text message.
Police in Scotland have been investigating these cases and are warning people about this latest online scam
“We want to warn members of the public of a new method used by fraudsters who try to extort money from people by claiming that they found lost pets,” Lorna Ferguson said.
“Typically, the fraudsters will claim to have found a pet and then demand a sum of money so they can return it to its owner. They often say that if their demands are not met, they will put the pet down.”
The scammer claims to be using a fictitious name or acts as if he/she is calling from an official organization such as animal welfare charity ‘R.A.P.’ (Reunite Animal Pets).
The calls are then followed up by text messages warning of some sort of imminent harm against the pets unless payment is made. These text messages use threatening language and graphic images of what appears to be the pet in distress (cut with scissors etc.).
In one case, the scammers told a woman she had ’24 hours’ to transfer £600 to their account via MoneyGram.
The scammer then sent her pictures of what appeared to be her missing dog, cut with scissors and bleeding, and claimed he would return it once the payment was received.
Police have said: “We are aware this is happening in other areas of the UK but we have not yet established if this is one group or many.”
Lastly, due to the puppy scams statistics increasing over recent years, you should be aware and not trust anyone you just met, especially if money is involved.