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

Updated ongoing scams on December 11, 2018

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, Bitcoin, 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.

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to see an up-to-date list of scams.

Example of a Scam:

Reported on January 5, 2017: 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

Ongoing Scams

1. Reported on December 11, 2018:

Beware of messages notifying you that a distant relative has passed and you are the benefactor of an outrageous amount of money. They just want to steal your personal information.

2. Reported on December 5, 2018:

Beware of messages asking for your personal information in order to send you an outrageous amount of money.

2. Reported on November 29, 2018:

Beware of messages offering generous amounts of money with a fishy sob story. The sender is using the email tinachima61@gmail.com with different variations of numbers after ‘tinachima.’

3. Reported on November 20, 2018:

Beware of messages regarding compensation for a previous business transaction. Do not be fooled by the outrageous amount of money via an ATM card, this is meant to entice you to get your personal information. The sender is using similar email addresses: lisamuna77@yahoo.com; lisamuna10@yahoo.com; lisamuna444@yahoo.com; lisamuna213@yahoo.com.

4. Reported on May 23, 2018:

Beware of the Bitcoin scam. The scammer will demand money via Bitcoin to return your pet.

5. Reported on August 10, 2017:

Beware of messages requesting your help to transfer outrageous amounts of money. Variations of this email are being sent around wanting to get your personal information.

6. Reported on January 5, 2017:

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


  • Perfectpaperstyping

    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.

    • My mom has received heartbreaking calls and texts like that from a person about her pet. Told her she had to pay $2k to get her dog back or else they would kill him.

      People are heartless assholes.

    • Yes …That happened to me …this man cropped my dog diesal picture and wanted me to send him 250 dollars are he was going to eat my child dog for dinner…but my daughter got wise and told him …it was on f.b …He started cussing her every thing under the book ….so sad

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

    • Do you live in Utah? I have found a orange and white furry cat I don’t know if it’s yours but good luck!!

    • One thing you should do to find your cat is this: There is a great site called missingpetpartnership.org (they are not a scam.) They base their suggestions of finding a lost pet by animal behavior. Our cat was “lost” but we found her due to their free tips on cat behavior. For instance, a cat likes to explore, is usually within a three-to-five-house radius of home, and they usually get themselves trapped, which prevents them from coming home. For instance, our cat Foxy was trapped in a high-walled courtyard just 50 yards from the back of our house. The woman who’d lived there was in assisted living. Missingpetpartnership,org is legitmate and has given tons of advice on how to find cats and dogs dure to their behavior. So go check them out. Their tips are free.

  • 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.

  • 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…?

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • There are places that have a TNR program and spay/neuter for around $30 per cat. My friend helps with the one.

    • There are people like myself who trap feral cats, fix them, too their ear and then re release them where I found them. I do this also under a grant. If I can get the kittens young enough to take, I try to find them homes. Don’t trust SPCA! They are the ones who will kill them. Just an fyi

  • 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.

      • At this point I think I would call the police if you’re demanding all this from me before returning my dog. Confirming owenership
        Has nothing to do with my car insurance and registration and For all anyone knows you could be a scammer asking for personal info. This is a bit invasive, and if you have my dog while asking for this, there would be a very big problem.

    • My cat went missing in November 2017, very friendly and affectionate and never strayed from home. One day he didn’t come back. I’ve been searching for him everyday since then. Been to countless rescues, local SPCA, people’s houses who thought they may have found him..
      The one day I was checking in at my local SPCA (where they also have had my cat in their missing file since the day he went missing) and I was looking into a cat that someone told me they thought may have been him.. while inquiring about this cat I found out he was too sick and had to be euthanized. I was so upset and started crying and this lady who is the head of whatever she does, walked behind the lady who was giving me this information from their system and she got so nasty and told me “matter of factly” that their was no way this was my cat because the cat was older. All I did was ask if she was sure and she got mad and said YES, THE AGE IS DETERMINED BY TEETH, AND OUR VET PLACED THIS CAT AT 8YEARS OF AGE. She then went on to tell me that with my boy being young friendly and nuetered, someone probably took him in and he would most likely get out once the weather got nice and make his way back home.
      2 months ago, the first nice day we had, a cat meeting his description turned up right on the next street (almost the same address as mine) after I seen the post on FB I contacted the person who found the cat but was sad to find out that she took the cat to the SPCA and instead of them contacting me they told her to return the cat back outside because it was someone’s indoor/outdoor and would go back home.
      2 weeks later the same lady found the cat again and contacted me. Her neighbor that lived directly across from her was claiming it was their cat and he was 6yrs old, then said 7yrs then changed it too 8yrs.. My cat would of just turned 3years old when this cat was found.
      We sent pictures to a personal vet of the teeth and eyes and the vet said the cat was around 3-4 years of age, definitely not any older.
      I then picked the cat up and brought him back home and then took the cat into the SPCA to be examined and get an age check and proof so they couldn’t continue to say it was their cat. The SPCA’s veterinary placed the cat at 3 to 4 years of age and I left there and brought my cat home.
      The same lady who works there and told me that they determine age by dental and was adamant before, called me an hour after I got home demanding I return the cat back to the SPCA because it wasn’t my cat.. I took him back along with his vet papers from when he got nuetered and got his shots, that stated his age… But because I didn’t have any recent pictures of my cat, they gave my cat back to these people who I believe stole him to begin with.
      They also had no other pictures whatsoever of this cat that they were claiming to have since a kitten, but I did. Their vet papers also put the cat at 8years of age where as mine put the cat at 3years, as did two different vet’s.
      So now I don’t have my cat.

  • 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.

    • Barbara Kingsbury

      June 4, 2018 at 3:13 PM

      Hi, you need to post photos and Found info on this site, under Found, not in the blog section. And all the other places mentioned by Jennifer Siegel.

  • 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!

  • Same here. Send 400.00 to Bitcoin. My cat escaped last night at 8pm. 8am this morning I got the ransom text.


  • Thanks for this article, I wasn’t aware before.

  • Thank you for the warnings! I have a much better idea how to proceed with identifying owners of found pets now And the knowledge that there are terrible scammers out there so the steps must be taken to ask for the drivers license, registration, car insurance and corresponding addresses and family photos . Thank you so much.

  • This is terrible, I can’t believe the evil links people will go to! Thank you very much for the heads up! I really appreciate it.

  • My concern is scammers trying to take the animal to sell to a research lab or feed to a reptile. That’s why I loathe “free to good home” ads. It makes sense that rescue agencies require an adoption fee. It tends to discourage those types, as well as help to fund the agency. I have a lost cat right now that I am trying to match to a home. I do not want any money but if someone comes along whose motives I doubt, I may ask for some just to make sure they are sincere.

  • Hey guys. There is a lady on the site claiming to have lost her dog. I found a dog yesterday and posted it on the fb site and she contacted me today (late the afternoon) saying that it was her dog. She told me the dog’s name and said she wanted to pick him up. I ask for proof like pictures and stuff. She sent me three different photos. Two were of an obvious puppy pic of the same kind of dog and the other one is of a pic that she uploaded from Google. Her fb page looked like a spam page with no info, pictures, or post. She told me this bogus story that does not make sense at all. Things just didn’t add up. So I told her I would call her back. Now I get on this webpage and find two different Lost Dog Post from her claiming to have lost the dog in two totally different parts of town. Neither which are anywhere close to me (which she told me she was in this area when she lost him). The pictures are totally different and I believe the dates lost are different. Here is the ID number for one of the pages PET ID:5189897. The other one is PET ID:5183954. BTW the dog I have does not answer to the name at all.

    • We are missing our for baby her name is whisper, she’s an almost all white pit bull with a few black spots on her back and she is deaf, is this the dog you found??

  • I genuinely am a concerned pet owner…I posted pics of her on fb around November/December 2017. Lots of feedback but people were asking for her. Of course she’s part of my family now. I know they probably were devastated. I’m more concerned about her safe return if they still want her. I’ve reached out to the owner but believe she may have blocked my number. I’m far more concerned about keeping her safe than the reward. Help me to identify her please…but I’m pretty sure this is her. I’m I’ll and about to start a battery of surgeries. This lil brown beauty captured my heart

  • They would messing with the wrong Mom I have the police backing me up

  • Chubbs:
    I am with you – my cat went missing on Sept., 17th, and his posters are everywhere, he’s listed on several sites, etc. If someone called me to say they had him, I’d call the police for an escort – they will actually do this if you are afraid of meeting a stranger.

    • Stephanie, we lost our cat a couple of years ago. But we learned something about cat behavior from a good site called missingpetpartnership.org.

      This is important. Cats don’t generally go beyond a three-to-five-house radius of home, and if they don’t come back, they’re usually TRAPPED somewhere. Our cat Foxy was trapped in a high-walled courtyard, not 15 yards from the back of our house. (The woman who’d lived there was in assisted living at the time). There’s a good site that’s also on Facebook called Missingpetpartnership.org. They base their searches on dogs and cats based on animal behavior. So think CLOSE, and think TRAPPED–a store room, a high-walled yard, a small place in one of your neighbors’s yards. Ask them to accompany you as you look through their yard. We got Foxy back that day, thanks to those tips.

      • I found a poor, nearly starved dog on Nov2nd, I was able to get him into the house after feeding him outside for a few hours. The dog was scared and in dire need of food. I cared for him, posted here and on other sites along with taking him to the Vet for shots and care, which included antibiotics for a skin infection. I received a text saying “You have my dog and saw your number and notice on our developement website”, which I ignored. then received a call saying “I am calling to get my dog”, we spoke for a few minutes and asked about the dog, he said he lost him on Nov 1 and he is that skinny because he ran all day, which is a lie, sent pics which resembled but did not look like the dog i had. Not once did he sound like a kind person, he text me several times tellign me how nice of a man he is but never once asking about the dog, how he was doing, he was worried, etc, so I was concerned for the dogs well being and felt it was a scam. He didnt even know his age or birthdate of the dog, only said between 2 1/2 and 3 years old. This is sad and honestly we need to care for the pets and be their voice in situations like this.

  • That’s true ppl r that way

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