Beware of lost pet scams

by SOURCE Federal Bureau of Investigation

El Paso—Few things tug at our hearts like adorable animals in danger or the distraught humans who miss them. Most of us have seen posts on social media from pet owners trying frantically to bring a lost furry family member home. They ask for help as simple as re-sharing, and we click, reposting that adorable dog we really hope gets reunited with their family.

Scammers know that pet owners become distraught when their loved four-legged family member is missing. Scammers have pretended to be Animal Services and demanded money to pay for their pet’s injuries before releasing their pet to them. They are also going onto popular social media platforms creating fake profiles, joining missing pet pages, and then posting about a hurt animal. They allege that they have taken them to the veterinarian and are looking to find the owner, only to swindle money out of them, leaving the pet owner heartbroken and with less money. They have even set up fake companies that are “the best in finding missing animals.”

How to spot red flags in this scam:

It is suggested to ask to see your pet in person or ask them to share a detail about your pet you didn’t include in the lost pet post/photo/flyer. If a response to your post/flyer elicits a response like this, proceed with caution:

They say they have your pet but can’t provide photos.

They offered the exact image you posted but edited it to lighten or change the background.

They make threats regarding your pet.

They make excuses about why you can't see your pet in person or in photos.

They ask for money or other sensitive information like a Google verification code.

Also, if you're considering paying for a lost pet recovery service, like a pet detective with a trained search dog, be sure to check their references and verify the source of the person’s training.

Report a lost pet recovery scam.

According to the Better Business Bureau, you can report attempted pet scams through the following sources: This site tracks complaints and works to remove fraudulent pet sales websites.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Here, you can file a complaint online or call 877-FTC-HELP.

Better Business Bureau: Try the BBB Scam Tracker to report online scams.

Federal Bureau of Investigation: File an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call the FBI El Paso Field Office at (915) 832-5000.

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