- April
Posted By : Clayton G.
Recognizing and Avoiding the Lost Pet Scam

Recognizing and Avoiding the Lost Pet Scam

If you are searching for your lost pet, the best thing you can do is spread the word to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, this may sometimes attract unscrupulous scammers looking to profit off your desperate situation.

Please read the following information to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Found a pet? Scroll down for tips on avoiding the found pet scam.

Recognizing the Lost Pet Scam

1. They demand you wire them money first. They may request payment by Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s check, money order, escrow service, etc. You can safely assume that anyone who asks you to pay them in this manner (in this context) is a scammer.

2. They won’t meet in person. They pretend to be unable or refuse to meet you face-to-face before initiating the transaction.

3. They will meet, but find an excuse why you should pay them before actually seeing the animal. They may offer to meet you at a public location to return your pet and collect the reward you have offered. When you get there, they may tell you your pet is in their car and will go get him for you as soon as you pay the reward. Once they have the money, they will disappear.

 Beware of vague, generic messages from people claiming to have found your pet. The above message came from a real scammer.

Beware of vague, generic messages from people claiming to have found your pet. The above message came from a real scammer.

Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

1. Never wire money to anyone you don’t know or haven’t met.

 Beware if someone asks you to wire them money before retrieving your pet. Photo credit: WikiVisual

Beware if someone asks you to wire them money before retrieving your pet. Photo Credit: WikiVisual

2. Don’t ask leading questions. If someone claims to have found your pet, don’t ask leading questions like ‘Does he have white socks on his front paws?’ Instead, make them provide the description. Ask the person to describe something about your pet that wouldn’t be visible in pictures that may have been posted. If the person fails to come up with an identifying physical attribute, it is likely they are attempting to scam you.

 If the person really has your pet, they should be able to describe identifying physical attributes without your help.   Photo credit: Pexels
If the person really has your pet, they should be able to describe identifying physical attributes without your help.   Photo Credit: Pexels

3. Meet in a public place. If you are absolutely confident this person has your pet, arrange to make the exchange in person and in a public place. Do not attempt to send them money before meeting and reclaiming your loved one.

Losing a pet is a traumatic experience. Don’t make things even more difficult by falling victim to a lost pet scam. Always be safe, be alert, and don’t give up hope!

Found a pet? Beware of this cruel scam

While people with lost pets may be more likely to become the victim of a scam, people who have found a pet can also be a target. A scammer may contact you pretending to be the owner of the pet you found. In reality, they are trying to dupe you into giving them the pet so they can sell it for a profit.

 Some pets, especially purebreds, are sought out by scammers to be illegally sold for a profit. It is up to you to verify proof of ownership before giving up your found pet. Photo credit: Pexels
Some pets, especially purebreds, are sought out by scammers to be illegally sold for a profit. It is up to you to verify proof of ownership before giving up your found pet. Photo Credit: Pexels

If someone contacts you claiming to be the pet’s owner, you must verify their claim before handing the pet back to them. Vet records, ownership or breeding papers, and even family photos are all viable ways to prove ownership. If the person is unable to produce any of these, it is likely they are attempting to pull off a scam.

If you are contacted by the owner of the pet you found and are able to verify proof of ownership, that is amazing news! It is always best to play it safe by arranging to meet in a public place to give them back their furry family member.

 Reuniting a pet with her family is one of the best feelings in the world. Photo credit: Pexels
Reuniting a pet with her family is one of the best feelings in the world. Photo Credit: Pexels


  • Perfectpaperstyping@gmail.com

    June 8, 2017 at 12:03 AM

    Has anyone ever encountered that they found your pet and if you don’t pay, they will kill your fur baby? That would rip our hearts out. Nothing has happened, but just asking.

    • My dog has been missing for over 6 mos and got a 3:30 am ransom call w ph number (altough called from restricted number) demading $5k or would blow a bullet up his a$$…along w lots of f bombs. Reportrd number to police afyer I traced it to a neighborhood we canvasded heavily.

  • annodrock@gmail.com

    June 10, 2017 at 6:37 AM

    Thank you for your in put it has been helpful. No I still haven’t found my cat.and I’m very sad.

  • Another helpful tip: Get the address for the person claiming to have found your pet. Plano ordinance is anyone who has found a pet has to report to the animal shelter within 24-48 hours.

  • xotypuppy07@gmail.com

    July 15, 2017 at 3:09 PM

    Enjoied the article
    When reuniting with the owner ask to See Drivers license. .Registration. ..
    Get some mail that corresponds with matching name of person LEGIT ID..
    always ask for fam photos of dog ….Vet.info ect..
    And get 3 active phone numbers from their family /workers ect and call the numbers while they are standing there…?

  • Kpeirce@martininorthern.com

    September 14, 2017 at 12:22 AM

    I worry that posting missing pets is what bad people wait for, then go to the area scout them, find them and steal them for their own use. I truly hate the thought because animals are my life. I just worry about that. Tracking collars might be best for some especially if they are free to roam. Many of our loved ones have been found by posting but many have not. So many bad people out there. Just watch your babies.

  • When You Meet The Scammer, After You See & Get Your Baby….
    Pay Them Their Reward and Break Both Of Their Kneecaps With a ‘Louisville Slugger"!
    Be Sure To Thank Them For The ‘Rescue’ They Provided.

  • mrduck1943@yahoo.com

    November 14, 2017 at 12:53 AM

    I am trying to figure out why suddenly we have so many homeless animals. Obviously they came from some place and many are families of cats. Suddenly baby cats have come up to me when I am outside gardening. So I bring the 4 week kittens in and the mother shows up. I realize she was the cat that was to be rescued by someone claiming to have a grant to trap and release. Then they never showed up and the cat had disappeared. I checked with my local animal rescue and then the cat showed up. I have no idea what is going on here. I ended up with 4 kittens and found a new friend that had a similar story and a cat organization in our county says they want these kittens to get them homes. Sounds good but I am worried they will be sold to Squibb or Rutgers pharmacy college, etc. for experiments. I have worked in that industry. How do we know if we are helping animals get a home or sending it to a terrible short life? Meanwhile, I would like to know why there are so many adult cats suddenly with no home and living under cars here? My goal now is to encourage them in winter to stay in the barn garage and to hopefully get them to trust humans so they could go to SAVE or some other organization in the spring to perhaps find a new home. Not sure this is realistic but evidently humans have abandoned these animals. I was raised with a mother that encouraged us to rescue animals and in the 50’s in California where we lived, huge migration of people into the state (after WWII) brought dozens of homeless animals. dogs were constantly abandoned. We worked very hard to get homes for these animal. I have rescued dogs from organizations here in NJ and have had people in this town where I bought my first home leave dozens of cats in the garage. One SPCA helped me with this ordeal and we did get homes but we also had a terrible ordeal with FIP. I hesitate to count on organizations that contact my friend about placing her cats and she thinks I should give kittens to them. My only idea is to contact the SPCA or SAVE to see if these organizations really do get homes for animals. Meanwhile, outrageous to see 12 abandoned adult cats and their offspring living under cars or junk piles where I live and the capture and release people never showed up and said they had a grant but somehow I ended up saying I could give them $50 a month to fix the female adult cats. I guess that was not enough. So glad they never showed up so beware of these people.

  • Are pictures really a legitimate way to verify ownership.
    I too have taken pictures of the pet.
    What are the legal requirements if there are any.
    I wonder because the dog I found is a pedigree, trained in obedience, and would not go in the car with the one who claimed him.
    She had pictures, but so did I.

    If we are a pet finder, can we legally demand proof and what kind of proof is legal?
    If microchipped, how can we trace birth papers.

    • If the cat does NOT have a microchip, you can smoke out any scammers by asking them what the microchip # is. You could say there is a chip but it was apparently out of date as it was registered to someone else with a defunct phone # and they couldn’t be located — this actually happened with a cat someone I knew found, so it’s a realistic scenario.

      The true owner would know there is no chip, and a scammer would probably back off automatically, because they wouldn’t know the (non-existent) chip #. Or they would make something up and you’d know they were lying.

    • Yes. Ask for Dl, Registration to car, Car insurance, and match names with addresses. Then ask for 3 phone numbers that can verify the info he or she has said. Call in front of them. If it is their furbaby then they will be happy you did that. When they contact you let them know you want to see as many family pics with the furbaby as they can bring. One or two pics tell them to go home. Don’t give to much info. Make sure you find something that only the owner would know about the furbaby. Example. A scar, where is the scar. Extra toe, finger. But don’t directly ask. Just say can you tell me something about the animal that know one else would know except the owner. I always find something unique. A lady tried this just recently with me. She even used her child to help steal a cat. Photo shop picture, and not one picture of the furbaby with the child who loved the cat so much. No family photos. Animal lovers always take pictures of their babies. I screamed at this woman all the way to her car, and then followed her to the store. I was trying to follower her home, but she wouldn’t go home. After A couple hours I went home. She did not get the cat. Yes bad people, but I believe there is more good people then bad.

  • alpdlp@verizon.net

    March 12, 2018 at 6:31 AM

    Thank you so much for this valuable information!!!!!

  • i told the scammer to send me a photo of the pet his sister took to another city to prove its my cat… he said ik well.. sorry its not the same cat. Photo of the lost pet is proof hes mine. ill know my cats features.

    sad someone is so scummy to try this when youre already heartbroken.

  • Ty for the advice

  • I appreciate all the advise you share. Someone tried to scam me as well. They tried to get me to send money before I could see my dog. They didn’t have my dog they wanted to scam me. I feel for everyone that has lost their fur baby. I never lost faith and knew my dog was coming home. I am grateful for your site and all the other sites out there. It’s a great way to get the attention needed to help to reunite our little ones. I found my dog after 3 months and I hear stories have people finding their babies after years. All I can say is keep the faith and don’t give up hope. Stay away from the scammers.

  • Cat has been outside my house for about the past week. Could be someone’s cat that goes outside within the neighborhood but no collar & looks thin.. figured it would be best to check if anyone knows she is missing. Location: Conodoguinet Avenue, Carlisle, Pa. Orange & white cat.

  • Facebook groups, shelters, your neighborhood, vet hospitals, and vets around your area.

  • Someone sent us text message today, that he has our dog, he wants $1000 sent it to bitcoin account or else he is going to sell our dog. The number is from California its like 2000 miles away from us. So we text back “to send us a picture”.

    • I also received a similar text this morning regarding my missing cat with the same type bitcoin ransom request. He asked for $400 or will sell him to somebody else. He or she said they bought a $20 throw away phone and to not bother calling the police. Sick people out there taking advantage of the broken hearted!

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