Wednesday, July 24, 2024

‘Preying on people’s good intentions’: Quinte area dog owners urged to be aware of new lost pet scam

Pet owners in the Quinte area are advised to be on the lookout for a new scam circulating via text.

The sender of the text claims to be from Animal Control and be in possession of the person’s lost dog.

Hastings Prince Edward Humane Society employee Jenn Nicholls has run the Quinte Lost Dog Network page for the last 13 years, and she’s urging people to be aware of this and other similar scams.

“During that time, I have pretty much heard and seen it all, as there have been some long-running scams such as contacting an owner and stating they have found their dog (a long distance away) and all you have to do is pay for airfare to have them returned to you,” Nicholls explained to Quinteist.

She’s also seen pet thieves reaching out to dog finders claiming to be the owner.

“I have always warned finders as well, as there are some well-known dog flippers in the area, which is why I never reveal gender, and black out any identifying items on the dogs such as collars and harnesses,” Nicholls says.

This new scam has arisen in the last couple of weeks.

“Several owners have contacted me with a screenshot of the new scam texts, claiming that they are so-and-so from Animal Control (the name varies).”

A screengrab of the latest scam. – Photo submitted by Jenn Nicholls

Nicholls fears they will evolve into using actual Animal Control Officer names, making it more difficult to ignore. A defining factor of this scam, however, seems to be poor grammar and language. And of course, she points out, Animal Control would never send a text, but would instead call the number listed.

In addition to dangers to pets, Nicholls fears that if the owners/finders follow the instructions in the texts, it could lead to their personal information being compromised. 

People who have lost or found a dog are advised to reach out to their local Humane Society, as well as Animal Control. For Belleville, Quinte West and Brighton folks can call Pierce Animal Control at 613-966-4483, however, organizations vary greatly throughout the region. The Humane Society of Hastings Prince Edward has a complete list of these organizations on their website.

Nicholls adds that these are just some of many such scams circulating on social media community groups all over the country. Another particularly common scam involves a photo of a found dog that is hurt, or a missing person.

“They almost always use a hashtag for the city they are posting in, and the poster always turns off commenting,” she explains. “This gets circulated hundreds of times, then the poster will change it to some scam posting so that hundreds of people will have already shared the information so it is circulated.”

Because many public groups have no real admin, these scams constantly slip by, Nichols says, “preying on people’s good intentions.” 

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