Lubbock Pet Owners: Beware This Cruel And Costly New Scam
A friend of mine's pet recently went missing. It happens at least once or twice to most people, and it can happen to anyone. It's a stressful and emotionally charged situation, which means the absolute garbage people will come out from under their stinky pile to try to take advantage of a good-hearted person. And this makes me really angry, of course.
My friend did everything right. She posted on social media with a detailed description of the animal, photos of the animal, the area it went missing, etc. She posted on her page, on local animal pages and she even did old-school paper flyers.
Needless to say she was thrilled when "Charlene" found her cat. She was ready to drop everything and pick up her animal immediately. But the situation quickly raised quite a few red flags. Luckily my friend picked up on them, and I'd like to show and tell you what they were so you never find yourself in this, or a simlar situation, getting scammed.
I won't show you the scammer's page because it was almost certainly "cloned" from a real, innocent person. Cloning a page is when someone uses your photo to make a new page and then requests your friends. Anyone can do it and it happens all the time on Facebook. "Charlene's" page gave off red flags because she only had one profile picture, no public posts whatsoever, and had very few friends.
Here are some examples of the direct message exchange that my friend had with the scammer in which we can find red flags:
This is how the person tried to set up the scam- they wanted to be "reimbursed" for calling the "cat trappers", a service I'm not even sure exists. Why would anyone pay someone to trap a cat that doesn't belong to them? If it seems ridculous, it almost certainly is a scam.
Their phone messed up and turned "cat" into "dog"? Yeah right, and it makes me wonder how many people they are scamming at a time. Also, I have never heard of any business showing up to someone's work to demand payment for a service, let alone doing the service unpaid in the first place. Again, if it seems implausable, it's likely a scam.
What reputable business demands that you pay them via an app like Zelle? Also, you can see that the scammer is trying to ramp up the emotions and drama to get my friend to stress out and give up the money. The scammer is also starting to cut their losses- they'll take $30 and run if they can't get the full $200 they were hoping for.
So this cat trapper's business Zelle email is, um, whatever all those letters are? The address I hid is close to my friend's actual address, which makes me think the scammer looked up my friend on a people serach website. Scary! Additionally , the scammer could not show my friend a photo of her cat because of the "messed up phone"- yet another red flag.
At this point, my friend was long past realizing that this was a scam, but just in case, she went to the address the scammer claimed to be at. Of course, they were not there. You may be satisfyed to know that my friend did tell the scammer off pretty harshly at the end.
I hope you are never in a situation in which a scammer can take advatage of your emotional and stressful state of mind. It's important to always remain calm, think things through, and be skeptical. A real person who really has your pet will understand.
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