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Pet Owners: Watch Out for This Text Message Scam

Brady & Marithe wait patiently for ice cream.Brady & Marithe wait patiently for ice cream.
Brady & Marithe wait patiently for ice cream.Kacy Burdette — Fortune

If you’ve recently lost a pet, The Better Business Bureau has a warning for you about a text message scam.

The Bureau reports that people who have recently posted about a lost pet on social media have started to get text messages from people who claim to have found the animal, but then things get dodgy. They’ll say their phone is broken or they’re not at home so they can’t take a picture of your pet, but will then pressure you for money or a gift card before they’ll return your pet.

Pet owners will send the cash, but then the scammer, who never had your pet in the first place, will disappear.

To help combat the issue, the BBB recommends always asking for a picture of your pet if someone claims to have it. If they can’t produce a photo, then that should be a red flag that it might be a scam. Also ask for a number where you can call the person back (scammers often spoof numbers), and never wire money or send a prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know. If you want to pay a finder’s fee, insist on doing that in person when your pet is safely returned.