The heartbroken owner of a missing cat has been targeted by cruel scammers who pretended the pet had been found.
Tabby cat Honey has been missing from her home in Dalmahoy Drive, Dundee, for almost a month and her owner Vicki Low has been distraught.
Despite searching for 16-month-old Honey there was no sign until Vicki received a call from someone claiming to be from animal charity PDSA, saying her beloved pet had been found.
Vicki said: “I was absolutely overjoyed and delighted that they had Honey.
“Initially my main thought was thank goodness she is safe.”
However, Vicki quickly became suspicious when the man on the phone went on to ask her for money.
She said: “He told me that he needed a “holding fee” over the phone there and then.
“He said he would then provide a reference number for me to give the receptionist when I went to collect Honey.”
Vicki said she was cautious, despite being relieved Honey was safe, and she told the man she would pay the fee on collection.
She said: “He claimed this was not possible and that the fee would increase the longer I left it.
“On hearing this, alarm bells started ringing. I advised him I was concerned this was a scam.
“He advised me to go online to look up the contact details for PDSA so I would see it was the same number.
“Right enough it was the correct number so I provided my card details and was then advised I would be put on hold for a few minutes.”
But Vicki said something continued to niggle at her.
She said: “While I was on hold, I phoned the PDSA number and discovered indeed it was a scam.
“When the male returned to speak, I told him I knew it was a scam and hung up.”
Vicki said she immediately called her bank and cancelled the payment.
Although the charge was only £2.99, the scammers may have been able to access more funds with Vicki’s bank details.
“I know it wasn’t a lot of money but if they do this with lots of people the money they get will soon add up,” she said.
“I want to warn others about this.
“This is a disgusting thing to do when they are targeting someone who has lost their beloved pet and think they may have been found.”
Prey on worried owners
Vicki said that sadly Honey is still missing and she doesn’t know if she will ever get her home again. Honey is microchipped and spayed.
A spokeswoman for Missing Pets Dundee and Angus said: “There seems to be no end to the lengths these scammers will go to.
“It’s just wrong how they prey on worried owners, to try and get money out of them while they are hurting.
“We are now seeing the same thing when dog lost posters are made up. Not pretending to be a vet practice or business, but saying they have their missing pet or know where they are, trying to claim money for information or claim reward money. It’s just disgusting. ”
Fiona McLeod, Senior Vet at Dundee PDSA Pet Hospital, said: “We are incredibly saddened to hear of this incident, of someone trying to cheat money from a distressed pet owner using our charity’s good name.
“We’d like to assure people that we would never ask for payment for holding a stray pet, or for reuniting a pet with their rightful owner.
“We would encourage anyone with any information about this to report it to the police so it can be investigated.”