July 20, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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The Lost Pet Scam: Eight Tips to Avoid Falling into a Scammer's Trap

The Lost Pet Scam: Eight Tips to Avoid Falling into a Scammer's Trap

Scammers who stop at nothing to extort money from their victims now target ads for lost dogs or cats and take advantage of owners' distress, Fox News reported Saturday.

In some cases, they may claim that they had to take your pet to the vet urgently, incur significant expenses, or threaten to harm your pet if money is not sent quickly.

Additionally, with new image generation technologies using artificial intelligence, fraudsters are now particularly adept at tricking their victims into believing they have caught their beloved pet.

Fortunately, as compiled by technology journalist Kurt Knutson, there are some tips to avoid falling into the trap of scammers.

Eight Tips Against Animal Fraud

1- Call the police

First of all, if someone says they have your animal and demands money to get it back, you should call the police immediately. The authorities are better able to deal with the situation.

2-Hidden details

Ask the scammer to describe your pet in detail, making sure not to include specifics in the ad. A small white spot under the right leg, under the belly button, on the ear: make sure this is a detail that is not visible in the photos in the ad.

Also, ask where and when your pet was found. Circumstances may warn you.

3-Ask your pet to listen

According to Kurt Knutson, most pet owners are able to recognize their own dog's barks or their cat's meows, which can be useful when cheating occurs.

4-Scan the microchip

If your pet has a microchip, ask the owner to scan it to get its identification number. It is possible to get a microchip reader on Amazon.

5-Photo and videos

Naturally, you can ask for photo and video proof of your pet, but remember that image generation technologies can sometimes create convincing images.

6-Ask for a photo of the invoice

If a scammer requests funds under the guise of an emergency visit to the vet, ask to see a photo of the invoice to get reimbursement from your insurance. With the name of the clinic, contact the veterinarian directly to see if he or she has actually seen your animal.

With the cheater's approximate location, you can repeat this step with all the vets in the area whose phone numbers you can easily find on Google Maps.

7- Meet in person

If you have no doubt and the scammer really owns your pet, ask to meet in person to hand over the money, so you can see the pet in real life before sending the funds. Because remember, there's nothing stopping a scammer from asking you for more money once you've given in to their demands the first time.

8-Theft prevention

Some scammers already use online advertising, but others go further by stealing the animal directly from its owner before attempting to exploit it.

To avoid this type of fraud, make sure you have a suitable fence at home and a quality harness or leash when walking. Some equip their cat or dog with a GPS tracker, but be careful: According to Kurt Knutson, even a cheater can access it.

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