Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pet sitters are targeted by scams

You’d think everyone has heard of the Nigerian scammers who want to buy something from you and send you an outrageous amount of money. You merely have to cash the check and return the difference. They usually start their email with “I am most unfortunate to have disturbed your precious time today…” or some other awkwardly worded sentence.

If the perpetrator is not dying of an incurable disease and needs to get money to his American relatives, then he wants to buy your product at twice its value. As an artist, I know how flattering it sounds that someone wants to buy my art and export it to Nigeria. Wow…

Now pet sitters are being targeted. The scammer writes that he/she is coming to America and needs a pet sitter for her dogs, and of course money is no object. Here is the warning email I received today.
I just got off the phone with one of my clients and heard the most horrifying story that I thought you should know about. I also think this is so important to spread the word so hopefully no one falls victim to his scheme.
My client is a very new pet sitter, which is why I think this scammer is preying on her. Communication from the very beginning came from a email address (which I have since googled, and it's linked to a site about how to make money in Nigeria). He was claiming to be a doctor, would be in her town for 3 weeks doing seminars and was staying at a hotel with his 2 dogs and needed 2 visits a day. He wrote "money was no object." She continued to correspond with him via email, trying to arrange the scheduling and he never asked to speak to her by phone. He sent her pictures of his dogs, etc. (some exotic breed that I've never heard of) As you can imagine, this was all very exciting for a new pet sitter and a great first job to land.
Then she received a very long and descriptive email from him that he had mailed her a check for $1800 (far and above their agreed upon rate) and that she was to deposit it into her ATM (only) and send him a copy of the ATM deposit slip "for his records". Then she was to Western Union $1300 to a pet supply store so the dogs would have supplies available during their stay. The email was extremely descriptive of exact steps that she needed to take to deliver the Western Union, and if she didn't send the $1300 his dogs couldn't be cared for as he intended. He hoped that she understood his "plight".
Unfortunately, she did not immediately see the red flags and was very caught up this new wonderful first new job that she landed - and it's exactly what this predator set out to do.
You get the idea. Now tell your fellow pet sitters, and don’t get sucked in!

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved. Photo above: Goldie and Lily play tug of war.


Pet Mom 1 said...

I have been approached with similar e-mail scams for about 4 years now, when I first started my pet sitting business........using common sense can help with this.
They do get creative....... :-)

posted by Terry said...

Hi everyone- I just received this email from Gerry at Austin City Paws:

This very same thing happened to me about three months ago. I received an email from a person identifying themselves as being a doctor that was coming to Austin to consult with a hospital. He need to secure my services for his dog that was being shipped from a friend in Georgia. He wanted three visits per day or for me to board the dog privately. It all seemed like a great opportunity but there was something that just wasn't right. I wrote the person and told him that I could not help him until I could do a one on one with him.
He wrote back with basically the same format and request. At that point I could tell that his solicit was structured and disingenuous. I wrote back one more time and stated that I could not help him unless I had the proper information, which is standard with my clients, and a phone call from him.

Never heard from that person again.

Hope we can get the word out.



Anonymous said...

I got one of those e-mails about a year ago. I noticed the "uk" and responded that I knew it was a scam since any dog coming from the UK would have to be in quarantine. I never got another e-mail again. My suggestion, if you get one of the scam e-mails, don't ignore it, call them on it. Never accept a client without a face to face interview prior to accepting a job and never, ever give money to a client.

VC de Mille