When Donna of Caldwell lost her cat, she put an advertisement in the local newspaper – The Idaho Press-Tribune – in a hope that someone had seen her cat.
“I just did what any pet lover would do to get her animal back,” she says.
That was in February.
Four months later, in the middle of the night, her phone rings, and the caller, Lassin Lawrence, 214 Spanish Towne Road, Kingston 11, Jamaica, W.I., says he has her cat, and she needs to send him $90 to release the animal.
In a thick accent, he says he is with 14 Country Pet Organization, and if she does not send the money immediately, her cat will be sent to Africa.
“I knew it was a scam,” she says, “since my cat had been returned to me already.”
But, she played along and took down all the information the man would offer.
“All I could think of was there may be some elderly person, who was heartbroken, getting this very call,” she says. “How do we stop them?”
Lawrence told her to send the money Western Union, and to not tell the clerk where it was going.
“He promised me that I would receive a certificate after he received the money, and then I could take the certificate to the Boise Zoo, where I could ‘release’ the cat,” she says.
This pet scam variation takes advantage of owners who have lost pets. The scammer searches newspaper ads, fliers, and posts at online lost-and-found boards, and responds they have found the lost pet in another area of the country. He/she says he will ship the pet back to the owner if they agree to cover shipping costs.
- Check with animal services in your area. Most communities require pets to be registered. If lost, they can be recovered and returned.
- Most veterinarians offer microchip tracking.
- When placing place advertisements in newspapers and online bulletin board, don’t be over descriptive, explain location lost, type of animal and distinctive characteristics.
- Remember, animals tend to not roam too far from home.