Scam in Central Oregon targets people with missing pets

By OPB staff (OPB)
Oct. 12, 2023 11:55 p.m.

A scam in the Bend area has targeted people with missing pets this week.

At least five pet owners received calls Wednesday from someone pretending to be a manager with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, the organization said.

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Sheila Miller, communications manager for the Bend Police Department, said the caller proceeded to claim the owner’s pet was injured and needed to have emergency surgery at the Humane Society.

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“The caller was using pretty generic medical terms, and then told the owner that in order to pick up their pet at the shelter, they’d have to pay for the surgery over the phone,” Miller said.

The Humane Society of Central Oregon does not ask for payments over the phone.

In general, Miller said, reputable organizations will not demand payment for services with gift cards, online apps like Zelle or other nontraditional methods of payment.

Miller encourages anyone who receives a call like this to hang up and call the local Humane Society chapter to confirm whether their pet was actually found.

Typically, scammers will try to rush the people they call, Miller said. Taking the extra time to call the shelter directly is important, though she acknowledged it can be hard to slow down when you believe someone has found your pet in an injured state.

“When your pet is missing, you feel really vulnerable,” Miller said. “You want to track them down. So this is a particularly kind of egregious scam, in my mind.”

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