Warning of 'missing pet' scam
The RSPCA are issuing a warning to pet owners of a number of scams in which fraudsters pose as the RSPCA and ask for money, claiming to have found missing pets.
In 48 hours they have been alerted to a number of distressed owners saying they have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the RSPCA and saying their missing pet has been found.
The fraudsters then ask for bank details over the phone, either to pay for life-saving surgery, vet's fees, or fees for the pets to be returned.
A charity spokesperson said:
"Members of the public have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the RSPCA. They've been told that their missing pet is with the charity or at a local vets and they must pay money over the phone. In some cases they are asking for a small collection fee and owners are then finding much more money has been taken from their account and in others they are asking £200 for life-saving surgery.
In some instances, the fraudsters are mirroring our phone number so the incoming call displays 0300 123 8585 which is particularly concerning.
We believe that these people are scouring websites and social media to find missing pet posters and are targeting owners.
It's disgraceful that these scammers are preying on already distressed pet owners and we're incredibly concerned that they may end up pocketing hundreds of pounds from owners who are desperately looking for their missing pets."
The RSPCA do not ask for money for veterinary care for missing pets over the phone in this way and would urge anyone who receives such a call not to give out their personal details.
Anyone who is contacted about a missing pet in their care should ask for a reference number and the officer's name and call their national call centre on 0300 1234 999 (between 7am and 10pm).
If the call is not genuine, they should contact the police on 101.
If your pet is missing please alert your microchip company and inform local rescue centres and vet practices as well as speaking to neighbours and local businesses.
If you are using missing pet posters or sharing your pet's details online please be aware that your phone number may be used by scammers and be incredibly careful when offering reward money or sharing any banking details over the phone.