Deeply embedded in the culture of Cary, North Carolina, is the love for dogs. Many restaurants are dog friendly, you would be hard-pressed not to find at least a couple of wagging tails while walking along the many greenway trails, and a whole dog park membership program is available through the local government. People love their dogs, and it is hard to blame them.
Unfortunately, an estimated 10 million dogs and cats are lost annually in the United States. Even when we think we are doing everything we can to keep them safe, mistakes or events that are out of our control happen, and an essential part of our family goes missing.
There are many methods that people utilize to try to find their lost pet. Posting in local Facebook groups, Nextdoor, and Craigslist are common ways to get the search going. While this may prove to raise awareness of your missing loved one, an unintended consequence of doing this is that you could be targeted for a scam.
How the scam works:
After posting the missing pet ad, two types of scammers could contact you.
The first type will claim that they have found your pet, but they need you to send them a 6-digit code to confirm that you are a real person. This person has not found your pet, and they are instead using your phone number to create an account with Google Voice (or another similar service) which requires a real phone number to set up. Because these scammers don’t want to use their own phone number involved, they trick other people into using theirs.
The second type will also claim that they have found your pet but will send a picture of another dog or cat that closely resembles yours and demand an award before giving you your pet back. This person does not have your pet, and it would be wise to reverse-search the photos they send if you have any doubts.
Unfortunately, scammers have the best luck preying on the vulnerable. Due to the high emotions during the difficult time for the pet owner, it can be easy to overlook otherwise obvious red flags. Make sure not to give any award money before seeing the pet in person, and do not give any six-digit codes out to anyone claiming they’ve found your pet.