Wake County warns community about scam targeting owners of lost pets

The Wake County Animal Center is warning local residents not to fall victim to a scam targeting the owners of lost pets.

The scammer seeks out distraught pet owners who post on social media about their missing pets, finds their phone numbers and calls them after normal business hours pretending to be an employee of the Wake County Animal Center. The scammer has also manipulated the caller ID, so the phone number the fake employee is calling from shows up as the Wake County Animal Center on the targets’ phones.

The fake employee then tells the owner that the center has their pet, but the pet needs emergency surgery. The scammer requests money sent via electronic payment systems to perform it.

“We know at least one cat owner has fallen victim to this scam artist who is preying on people when they are most vulnerable,” said Vice Chair Susan Evans of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “We don’t want this predator to take advantage of anyone else, so we’re spreading awareness about this scam countywide.”

The Wake County Animal Center does call the owners of pets who are brought to the center and have a microchip with associated contact information. However, these calls only take place during regular business hours, and staff will never ask for electronic payment of any kind. The only forms of payment the center accepts are cash, check or credit cards – all of which must be presented in person.

“This is a heartbreaking situation for people who just want to find their beloved missing pets,” said Wake County Animal Services Director Dr. Jennifer Federico. “We encourage the community to help us protect the owners of lost pets by sharing word of this terrible scam with colleagues, friends and family.”

Anyone who feels they were duped by the scam is urged to contact the Wake County Sheriff’s Office or their local law enforcement agency.

Press Release