New scam targets owners of lost pets, what to watch out for

Problem Solvers
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DENVER (KDVR) — A new scam in Colorado is targeting owners of lost pets. The scammers behind it all text the lost pet’s owner claiming they have the dog or cat but request a “code” in return for the owner to see a picture of the pet. 

“I got a message from a guy saying he found her, he messaged me through Craigslist saying I need to send him a verification code, so he could send me images and I could pick her up,” Omar Hernandez, owner of a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix that went missing on Sunday said. 

Hernandez said his uncle was at his house in Littleton on Sunday while he was at work. He said his uncle opened the gate and his 1-year-old dog named Sol took off. He said his uncle chased her for awhile but had no luck. Hernandez started searching right when he got home from work. 

“I went and looked for her for several hours, asked a bunch of different people,” Hernandez said.  

Then on Monday he received a text message that someone had found her. But the person asked him multiple times to send him a verification code that was texted to Hernandez’s cell phone number. 
The codes having a message included stating: “####### is your Google verification code. Don’t share this with anyone.”

“It’s super low quality to play with someone’s emotions like that,” Hernandez said. 

The scammer then started asking Hernandez for his friends and family members phone numbers and asked for the codes texted to their phones. 

“I felt upset. I don’t think it’s the right thing for people to do that. You’re just trying to find your dog,” Hernandez said. 

FOX31 Problem Solvers reached out to the Better Business Bureau on what exactly scammers are doing with these codes. One reason they stated is the scammers are creating Google Voice numbers to scam more people. 

“Perhaps they are trying to steal your identity because this number is attached to this person. They might try and spoof your phone and make a google phone number and start contacting people as if they were you,” Keylen Villagrana, with the BBB said. 

She said scammers are finding posts through social media and targeting people while they are vulnerable and upset about their pet being lost. 

“Scammers will pressure you. They want that sense of urgency, they want you to react with your emotions and not take a stepback and analyze what’s going on,” Villagrana said. 

Some tips the BBB shared if your pet gets stolen or goes missing: 

-Request a photo of the pet 
-Request a FaceTime or face-to-face call so you can see your pet 
-Ask to meet in a public place to get the pet back 
-Don’t send any personal information 
-Stop responding if something doesn’t feel right 

Villagrana said to report all scams to the BBB Scam Tracker

Hernandez is still looking for Sol, if you have any information, he’s asking you to contact him through Facebook.

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