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19th Apr 2024

Warnings issued as £240m stolen from pet owners by scammers

Charlie Herbert

pet owners warned about scam

Fraudsters have been targeting vulnerable pet owners

Pet owners have been warned to watch out for a new kind of scam which saw almost £240m stolen from people.

There are an estimated 23 million pet owners in the UK, and scammers have started targeting those who have just lost their pet.

Fraudsters have been taking to lost pet forums and websites where they claim to have found the owner’s missing pet. They then demand a ransom payment for the return of the animal.

This type of fraud is known as an Authorised Push Payment (APP) and is when a victim is tricked into sending money directly to the criminal’s account.

UK Finance’s figures show that these scams cost British consumers £239.3m in the first six months of 2023.

James Jones, head of consumer affairs at Experian, told Forbes: “With personal information now so readily available on social media platforms, scammers can easily personalise their approach to trick people into thinking they are legitimate. The use of missing pet websites can also open pet owners up to potential fraud.

“To protect yourself, it is crucial to stay extra vigilant when responding to missing pet enquiries and to learn how to spot the plot-holes in scammers’ stories.”

For example, scammers can use pictures and adverts from the pet owner’s social media to paint a convincing picture of the pet in question.

He added that if anyone demands money for the safe return of you pet, you should contact the police immediately instead of paying the ransom.

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