NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The Norman Police Department has a warning for pet owners in the metro: scammers appear to be targeting people who are seeking a missing pet.
The Norman Police Department said the callers are seizing on the owner’s desperation to make a quick buck.
The Norman Police Department has received several reports of someone claiming to be an employee with Norman Animal Welfare. On the phone, they tell people their animals are being held at the shelter and that they need to make immediate payment through a money sharing app.
“People love their animals and they’re willing to do anything to get their dogs back when something like this happens. And so it puts them in a real vulnerable position to where they are willing to give money. They are willing to give anything to get their pets back home,” said Kelly Robertson, manager of Norman Animal Welfare.
Kelly Robertson with Norman Animal Welfare said they’ve received several anxious calls from pet owners. They believe the shelter has their missing pet, claiming someone from the shelter called them, demanding money in order for them to be reunited.
“We’ve never dealt with anything like that before. And so it was kind of a confusing, surprising situation because the dogs were not here,” said Robertson.
The Norman Police Department said the caller asks for payment through Cashapp or Venmo, explaining that it must be paid immediately to reimburse the shelter for treatment and care.
“They said that the animal had been hit or injured and other instances, they said that the animal had just been picked up by the Norman Animal Welfare Center and that they were in possession and then they started asking for immediate payment so that that animal could receive treatment or so that they could return that animal to the owner,” said Sarah Schettler, PIO for Norman Police Department.
Sarah Schettler says fortunately, no one has fallen for the scam yet.
“But these are really hard crimes to work through. A lot of times the people that are calling aren’t located within the US for spoofing phone numbers… It’s really important that people just take that extra step initially to never provide financial information, money or any personal information to these individuals,” said Schettler.
Norman Animal Welfare said if they have your missing pet, and it has some sort of identification, they will call you. They’ll never ask you for payment over the phone.
“We do have fees that we charge for people to reclaim their animals once they’re in the facility, but that happens here at the building. It would never happen over the phone,” said Robertson.
Norman Animal Welfare said microchipping your pet is a good way to track where they are.
Also keeping gates locked at all times will help prevent your pet from going missing. You can always check for your pet at the local animal shelter if it goes missing.