Amid reports of fraudulent activities targeting distraught pet owners in San Francisco, the city’s Animal Care and Control warns residents of a scam that preys on their hope and desperation to return lost pets. The agency is urging vigilance and caution in order to prevent further victimization.
Posing as shelter workers, the scammers are reportedly contacting individuals who have posted about their lost pets on social media platforms. The con artists are sophisticated, using a number that appears to be the legitimate phone line of the city’s only open-door shelter, thereby lending their scheme an air of authenticity.
They then claim to have the missing pets and demand payment for their return. Payments are solicited through apps or retailer gift cards – an unusual request for a public agency, which typically would not use such methods for transactions.
In response to these alarming reports, San Francisco Animal Care and Control has released a statement assuring residents that their staff would never ask for any form of payment over the phone. They have labeled the scam “appalling,” expressing their concern for the pet owners and their missing companions.
To protect themselves from such scams, pet owners are advised to:
- Verify Information: When contacted about your pet, always ask for a full name, job title, and callback number. Then, cross-check this information with the organization they claim to represent.
- Beware of Unusual Payment Requests: Government agencies and reputable organizations generally do not request payments via apps or gift cards. Be suspicious of such requests.
- Contact the Agency Directly: If you receive a call from someone claiming to have found your pet, hang up and call the agency directly to confirm. Use the official number listed on their website.
- Use Official Channels: Utilize the Lost Pet Hotline and the Animal Care and Control website to report or search for lost or found animals. These are safe and secure methods provided by the agency.
- Never Share Personal Information Over the Phone: Do not share your bank details, credit card numbers, or other personal information.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you encounter such scams, report it to local law enforcement agencies. This can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam.
In these challenging times, the San Francisco Animal Care and Control stands by to help reunite lost pets with their owners. By staying vigilant and informed, residents can ensure they are dealing with the true representatives of the agency rather than falling prey to those with malicious intent.