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Scammers Are Now Preying On Owners Of Missing Pets Through Fake Medical Emergency Calls

Scammers are targeting owners of missing pets to steal money in the name of a medical emergency
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Kelly Sikkema
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Kelly Sikkema

A new scam is targeting owners of missing pets to extract money from them in the name of a medical emergency. Scammers posing as officials from Wake County Animal Center reach out to pet owners in Wake County claiming their missing pet has been found but is gravely injured or in need of medical attention. Roddy Terrell, a resident, shared his story with CBS17 to alert fellow owners and prevent more fraud from happening.

Representative image | Pexels | Photo by Ihsan Adityawarman
Representative image | Pexels | Photo by Ihsan Adityawarman

Terrell told CBS17 that his cat Jonesy has been missing for over two months. He even showed missing posters that he had put up looking for his beloved pet. However, the first news he got about Jonesy turned out to be a scam.

Terell said he received a call on Tuesday whose caller ID showed it was from ‘Wake County Animal Center’. He immediately thought it was about his cat and answered the phone. According to Terrel, the call said that his cat was found and a good Samaritan had brought it in.

However, the caller claimed that Jonesy was hit by a car and needed surgery to be ok. Terrel says he started crying as Jonesy is part of his family. Terrel then quickly sent $700 via PayPal for the emergency surgery. He was instructed to send it under the ‘friends and family’ option instead of the business option so that the transfer would be cleared faster.

Although Terrel did view it as a red flag, he made the transfer to ensure his cat gets proper treatment. However, when he told the story to his husband, some doubts were raised and they decided to call the Wake County Animal Center. This is when the couple learned that Jonesy was never there and they had just been a victim of a scam.

Terrell contacted his bank and said that a refund is pending as the bank is investigating the incident. He also filed a report with Garner Police.

Wake County Animal Services director Dr. Jennifer Federico told the news outlet that the scam has become increasingly common. She said she receives numerous such calls while at the front desk and comes across several social media posts of such incidents.

According to Federico, in case the Wake County Animal Center finds someone’s missing pet, they will always reach out to the owners during business hours. Further, they will not ask for payments except reclaim fees which are paid only by cash, check, or credit cards.

Terrell now hopes that more people learn about the scam so that they can be safe.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, imposter scams (where people pose as officials of government agencies or companies) were the biggest fraud of 2023 and the trend has continued into 2024. Last year, about 854,000 people filed complaints to the FTC about imposters, and a total of $2.7 billion was lost to such scams.

Recently, an elderly woman from Florida lost over $2 million to imposters posing as FTC investigators. She has now filed a lawsuit against Bank of America for failing to protect her from the fraud, The Daily Hodl reported.