Recognizing and Avoiding the Lost Pet Scam
- If you receive a text asking for a Google verification code, this is a scam.
- If someone requests money, gift cards, bitcoin, etc., this is likely a scam.
- All legitimate communications from PawBoost will come from an @pawboost.com email address, or from the official PawBoost number, +1 (872) 266-7847.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. The scammer will say they found your pet, but will ask for a 6-digit code. They will not provide photos or detailed information, but will request you to send them a Google verification code in order to prove that you are the owner. DO NOT send them this code as they are trying to register your phone number on Google Voice. Learn More Here.
If you provided the code to the scammer follow these steps to disconnect your Google Voice number.
2. The scammer will say they are affiliated or are working with PawBoost. They will text you that your pet has been found asking for your email address or request that you email them at email@example.com, or potentially a similar @gmail.com email address. They will ask for personal information, such as social security number and license information, and payment to retrieve your pet.
OR they will text you posing as a “PawBoost agent” claiming your pet was found. They will ask for your location and proof that you are the owner. DO NOT respond or send payment.
3. This person will text you claiming their grandma or neighbor has your pet, but will not send a picture. They will ask you to cover the costs of caring for the pet.
4. This person will email you claiming to be affiliated with the vet that has found your pet. They will ask you to pay a release fee via payment link.
5. 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.
This shorter email is being sent from ‘Edward Harrison’ trying to get you to reply. Email is being sent from: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Beware of messages claiming to come from the CIA and demanding you send money through Bitcoin. This email is coming from multiple emails similar to the following: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Someone is texting PawBoost users claiming they have their pet and will demand for money/Amazon gift cards. They won’t send pictures of the pet, but claim to have it. If someone says they’re from PawBoost asking for money this is scam. Please be careful!
8. Beware of threatening messages demanding you to send money through Bitcoin. The sender is using various emails with “anonymous” in the domain of the email address: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Beware of suspicious charity fund messages from overseas. The sender is using the email email@example.com.
10. Beware of spam messages regarding business deals. The sender is using the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. Beware of weird emails talking about investments. There are about 50 variations of this message that are being sent from email@example.com.
12. Beware of messages asking for you to contact them in order to send you an outrageous amount of money. The sender is using the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Beware of messages offering generous amounts of money with a fishy sob story. Variations of this email are being sent around wanting to get your personal information. One sender is using the email email@example.com with different variations of numbers after ‘tinachima.’
14. 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. One sender is using similar email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com.
15. Beware of the Bitcoin scam. The scammer will demand money via Bitcoin to return your pet.
16. Beware of vague, generic messages from people claiming to have found your pet. The message below came from a real scammer:
You can help prevent others from becoming victims by reporting scams like these to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it seems suspicious, it probably is.
Add a phone number to your listing
It’s recommended to add a phone number to your PawBoost listing to make communication easier with someone who might have found your pet.