As a pet owner, one of your main fears is your pet getting harmed in some way or the other. If you end up losing your pet in some unfortunate way, that’s even more traumatizing. When a pet goes missing, we do everything in our power to try and get them back. There are a lot of emotions involved, and it's these emotions that fraudsters and scam take advantage of, giving rise to pet scams.
While you might think that no one would be heartless enough to trick pet owners for huge sums of money, that’s not the case at all. In 2016, for example, the Federal Trade Commission received a report of people losing close to $744 million to fraudsters, of which most were due to lost pet scams. Hard to believe, right? Well, that's the kind of sad world we live in.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can save yourself from these lost pet scams. In addition to staying calm and evaluating the situation logically, there are a few signs to watch out for that will indicate when you’re being scammed. Let us take a look at what these signs are and how you can prevent yourself from falling for a lost pet scam.
What the Scams Look Like and How to Identify Them
The scammers will look up the info you posted on social media or a flyer about your lost pet, and use that information to take advantage of the situation. Different scammers use different techniques to trick you and derive money from you. Here are some of the various pet scam scenarios that you should be aware of:
· If you’ve placed an ad for your missing pet, some might call you and claim that they have your pet. They will ask for the reward to be sent to them. If you refuse to pay them in advance, they might threaten to harm your pet so as to ensure you pay up before time.
· The second common scam situation is when someone claims to have seen your ad and says they’re a trucker who found your pet on the road. They will ask for the pet's owner to transfer them money, which, apparently, they spent taking the pet to the vet. This scammer will say that once you send them the money, they will send your pet your way through another trucker who is heading in the same direction as your house.
· The third situation is even more clever. You might get a call from someone claiming to have your pet. Once you explain what your pet looks like, they will apologize saying that the animal they found doesn't match your description. This is all a ruse to get an accurate description of your pet. Post this, they will have a second person call you and tell you that they have found an animal who matches the description of your pet.
· Yet another lost pet scam to be aware of is when you get a call saying that someone found your pet, when in reality they are the ones who stole your pet in the first place so as to get money from you.
The different scenarios point out a few conclusions that will help you keep yourself safe from these vicious lost pet scams. The first thing to note down is that anyone who is trying to scam you will make money the biggest priority; that in itself should be the first red flag you catch, because no genuine person would value money over the life of an animal.
The second thing to remember is that fraudsters will always display a sense of urgency. They will want to receive the payment within a short timeframe. Lastly, they will want to avoid a face-to-face meeting at any cost. Whenever someone promises to return your pet without meeting you in person, you should know that there’s something fishy going on.
In addition to lost pet scams, you should also know that found pet scams are a thing as well. This is when people pretend to be the owners of the lost pet so that they can keep the pet for themselves. Most of these people sell these animals for monetary reasons. The ways to detect and avoid found pet scams are:
Ø Ask them if they have any proof of ownership. If they’re the real owners, they will be able to show you breeding papers, vet records, and so on. If someone is unable to provide these, don’t engage in further conversations with them.
Ø Request them to send a photo of them with their pet. This is an easy way to find out whether the person in question is lying about ownership or not.
Ø Question them about certain special features or signs of identifications on their pet. A real pet owner will be able to point all of this out easily.
How to Avoid Lost Pet Scams
Scamming has evolved with time. However, listed below are a few simple tips and tricks to note down that will help you avoid lost pet scams:
1. Don’t send money beforehand. Make sure you pay them only when you’ve seen them with your pet face-to-face.
2. Much like every other type of scamming, lost pet scams have weird numbers and email addresses associated with them. If you ask for an alternate number and they refuse to give you one, that’s a major red flag.
3. Ask them to send you a photo of themselves with your pet. In today’s world, that’s the easiest way of knowing if someone has your pet or not. You could also ask them to video call you, because a person telling the truth won’t say no to doing so.
4. Beware of the vivid details you share about your pet on social media. The ones scamming you will use this to prove that they do indeed have your pet. If you ask them to tell you about your pet’s special identification marks and they fail, you will know that you’re in the company of fraudsters.