Pet owners have been warned to be wary of fraudsters targeting heartbroken families in “despicable” missing pets scam in the north-east.
Scammers have begun targeting the owners of missing pets claiming to be holding their beloved animals to ransom.
Preying on lost animal appeals on social media, fraudulent messages claiming to have found a lost pet are then followed by monetary demands.
Catching people at their most desperate, scammers will insist on payment through bank transfer, PayPal or Bitcoin.
The fraudsters will often make threats to the animals’ life if their ultimatum isn’t met.
Police have said that the scammers do not actually have your pet and “might make up various excuses should you ask to meet or ask for proof.”
Appeals by the police come just months after a similar scam targeted pet owners in Moray.
‘Threaten to kill the pet if money is not sent’
North-east division crime reduction officer, constable Richard Russell said: “This despicable crime will see scammers contacting pet owners after seeing the appeal to find the missing pet online.
“The scammer will contact you directly on the mobile number or e-mail provided on social media and claim to have found your pet.
“They will then demand hundreds of pounds for safe return of the pet.
“Even if a reward was originally offered they will demand more or threaten to kill the pet if money is not sent.
“They will ask for money by various means including through bank, Paypal or Bitcoin transfer. “
Similar crimes have been reported across the UK, officers have advised that anyone suspecting fraud should not send money, provide details and should contact the police immediately.