JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It's bad enough when your beloved dog or cat disappears from home.
It's even worse when a con artist calls saying they found your furry friend and demand you pay a ransom before they give it back.
It's something that Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge calls "shameful," and she wants to put a stop to it by alerting pet owners.
In a statement Wednesday, Rutledge warned that con artists scour social media sites looking for families with missing pets.
The scammers then contact the family and say they have the pet and will return it for a sum of money. But, the scammer does not actually have the pet.
Rutledge said many people are "so desperate" to get their pet back home they pay the ransom, no questions asked.
The con artist then runs away with the money, leaving the owner with no pet and less money.
Rutledge said the scam has been reported in communities across the state. Some families even reportedly turned over a few hundred dollars to the scammers.
"It is shameful that these criminals would take advantage of someone suffering through the loss of a pet," Rutledge said.
To avoid becoming a victim of this scam, she offers the following tips:
- Be cautious if your pet is lost and receive a call from someone claiming to have the animal and asking for money in return if a reward was not initially offered.
- Ask questions about the pet that only someone who is with the animal would know before turning over any money.
- Do not turn over any money without proof the person has your pet.
- Always offer to meet the person in a public place and never give the person on the other end of the phone your address.
If you believe someone is extorting you, contact local police.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the AG's office at 800-482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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