Pet owners have been warned to be wary of a “despicable” scam targeting those who have a missing animal.
The new scam aims to trick “vulnerable” individuals into providing payment under the pretext that their pet has been found and needs emergency treatment.
Fraudsters claim to be calling from a vet, advising that the missing animal has been found and needs immediate treatment with the payment required upfront.
In light of the new scam, Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumeradvice.scot service, has issued advice to pet owners on how to avoid being scammed and urged people to report scams on their website.
Spokesman Colin Mathieson said: “Scammers can be very convincing in their approach, and it is despicable that these individuals are taking advantage of people at a vulnerable time.
“It’s important that you don’t share any of your personal or banking information with people contacting you out of the blue like this.
“Contact the vet that the scammer is claiming to be calling from using the official number from the vet’s website, or phone number officially listed for them online, or with directory enquiries.
“Scots consumers can report suspected scams and suspicious activity using the quick reporting tool on our website, or alternatively contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial and practical advice.”
Illegal trade of puppies soar in lockdown
The new scam is the latest of a series of illegal incidents, where current or future pet owners have fallen victim to fraudsters.
Earlier this year, the Scottish SPCA reported puppy farms have increased operations in recent months to capitalise on the extra demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Dogs Trust, some breeds have more than doubled in price during lockdown as households turn to a man and woman’s best friend for company while cooped up in their homes.
The surge in demand resulted in a widespread probe launched by the Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit following a spate of reports of puppy farming.
Nearly 80 reports about illegal breeders were lodged with the charity in October last year alone, as incidents of puppies being sold by suspicious dealers continued to rise in the following months.
All prospective dog owners are urged to buy their pet from a reputable breeder rather than be tempted by puppy farmers, and remain vigilant of any scams circulating in the country.
Things to remember if you suspect you might be the victim of a scam:
- Remain calm – hang up if you are at all unsure.
- Don’t share personal information – this can be used to perpetrate further scams.
- Don’t share banking or payment information.
- Contact the official party using listed numbers – check online, or with directory enquiries and contact using these details
- Report suspected scams at scamwatch.scot – you might be able to help others.