On Your Side: Lost pet scam

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If you’ve ever had a dog or cat go missing, you know it’s a heartbreaking experience.

Crooks have no limits. Now there’s a new scam, targeting pet owners during this stressful time.

Heather Washburn’s dog, Mayham, ran off last month. She posted he was missing on the Leigh’s Lost and Found Facebook page.

She got a text that says: I found your pet.

“When I first saw that my heart kind of dropped. I thought thank God. Someone found my pet. That meant so much to me because he’s more like a family member,” said Washburn.

Then she got a text that says: You know lots of people are fake. So at first I need to verify you from six digits code.

Heather says her family told her not to respond.

“And then to find out it was a scammer devastated me. I think it made it worse,” she said.

A few days later, Mayham returned.

“We were the lucky ones that got him back,” she said.

Amanda Sexton got the same text when she posted about her missing cat, Sadie.

“I instantly asked if he could send me a picture. It was a horrible feeling,” Sexton said.

Leigh Moody started Leigh’s Lost and Found nearly ten years ago. The page averages around five hundred reunions a month. With all that traffic, scammers want to cash in.

“This one has popped up way more than anything I’ve ever seen. False hope is just the worst when you’re looking for a lost animal,” said Moody.

Sadie is still missing in north Springfield.

This scam also happens on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Bottom line if you’re asked for a code, don’t do it.

If your pet goes missing, meet the person who found your animal at a safe place like a police station.

Leigh’s Lost and Found is always free. If you decide to give a reward, don’t hand over the cash until you have your pet.

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