Wake County Animal Center warns of imposters trying to steal money from heartbroken pet parents

Diane Wilson Image
Friday, April 12, 2024
Scammers targeting owners of lost pets
A new scam is going around the Triangle and preying on pet owners who have lost their furry family members.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Animal Center is warning pet owners of a new scam that is targeting people who have lost their pets.

Sometimes those owners use social media to try and get more eyes out searching for their lost pet. They may post a picture of their pet and a phone number to call if someone sees the pet.

That's all the scammers need to try and get your money.

The Director of the Wake County Animal Center said scammers are calling owners of lost pets after normal business hours pretending to be employees of the center.

The fake employee then tells the owner that their pet is at the center and is in need of emergency surgery before requesting money via electronic payment.

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"They are injured in some way. They need surgery or some kind of medical procedure and you need to give us a deposit for that to be done," Animal Services Director Jennifer Federico said.

Wake County Animal Center reports that the scammers can manipulate the caller ID so the phone number appears as though it is the Wake County Animal Center on the person's phone.

"They're spoofing our number coming up, saying it's Wake County Animal Center, which makes it so believable, and I think that really this person -- who is just an evil genius -- is playing on the fact that I am so desperate to find my animal that I'm going to believe this," Federico said.

The Troubleshooter takeaways to remember are that the Wake County Animal Services Center will never demand immediate payment over the phone or through any payment apps. They only take cash, checks, or credit cards all of which are done in person.

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Federico also said it's a red flag if you're asked to pay for medical procedures.

"We're never going to ask you to pay something exorbitant like that over the phone. We're going to tell you when to come in our business hours," Federico said. "The big thing is we are not a place -- we are not licensed to practice on privately owned animals. So we couldn't even take money from you to care for your pet here; the only things we charge for when you come to pick up your pet is boarding and a reclaim fee."