The national Gendarmerie is urging caution to anyone who may have posted details of a missing pet online, especially on popular Facebook page Pet Alert!. The network was created to make it easier for missing dogs and cats to be found.
But reports from the Var department (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) especially said that several people have been contacted on the details left on the Pet Alert! page, by phone and text, by someone claiming to have their lost pet.
The caller or texter then asks the pet owner how much money they are willing to pay for their animal, and asks to be paid immediately before revealing any more information. In reality, they do not have any.
The Gendarmerie said the scam was operating “at national level” and urged caution, especially to pet owners who may be feeling vulnerable or upset after the disappearance of their animal.
In defence of its network being used by scammers, Pet Alert! France said: “We are not responsible for this situation. This kind of thing happened in the era of paper lost pet posters, and has only got worse since the arrival of social media.”
The page condemned the scammers’ actions and said: “We remain ready to continue to help.”
Pet Alert! is a huge network online dedicating to finding lost animals, and operates in France, the UK, Spain, Belgium and more. Similar operations also operate in the USA and further afield.
There are national pages, as well as many individual pages for local departments. All can be found by searching "Pet Alert" on Facebook.
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