Attorney General Alerts

CONSUMER ALERT: Pet Owners Beware of Ransom Scams


April 26, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are hunting families with lost pets. Con artists scour social media sites looking for families who have recently posted that their beloved pet is missing. These scammers then contact the family and say they have the pet and will return it for a sum of money, but the scammer does not actually have the pet. Many families are so desperate for their four-legged family member to return home that they are willing to pay the ransom, no questions asked. The con artist runs away with the money, and the pet owner is left without their pet and less money.

“Many of us treat our pets like family members, so when one goes missing, our hearts break,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is shameful that these criminals would take advantage of someone suffering through the loss of a pet.“

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to avoid falling victim to this scam:

  • Be cautious if your pet is lost and receive a call from someone claiming to have the animal and asking for money in return if a reward was not initially offered.
  • Ask questions about the pet that only someone who is with the animal would know before turning over any money.
  • Do not turn over any money without proof the person has your pet.
  • Always offer to meet the person in a public place and never give the person on the other end of the phone your address.

This scam has been reported in communities across Arkansas, with some families even reportedly turning over a few hundred dollars to the scammer.

With people and pets spending more time outside during the spring and summer months, pet scams tend to increase this time of year, including stealing pets from unattended backyards and vehicles. Scammers have been known to steal photos of pets and try to sell them online, and some con artists will post as animal rescue charities using names similar to reputable charities in an effort to steal your money. Thoroughly research perspective pet sellers and charities to make sure you are dealing with reputable organizations.

Contact local police if you believe you may be being extorted.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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