OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland officials this week warned residents of a new scam targeting people who have posted their lost animals on social media.
People who have posted lost animals online have been contacted by a person who claims to be an employee of Oakland Animal Services, city officials said in an advisory Wednesday.
The scammer would claim that the lost animal has been found but is severely injured. The pet owner then is told to pay a large fee to cover the medical bills of the animal, said city officials, who emphasized the OAS would never ask for money over the phone.
Oakland officials urged members of the community to share information about the scam with friends and family to warn people about it.
"We understand that anyone who has lost a pet is feeling especially stressed, making them so vulnerable to a cruel scam like this," Ann Dunn, Director of Oakland Animal Services, said in a statement.
According to city officials, the OAS would ask the potential owner to come to its facility about a lost pet and confirm the animal is theirs, and that it would never ask for payment over the phone
Those who are unsure if they are interacting with an OAS representative can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or come to the agency's facilities during open hours, daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thursdays, when OAS is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
City officials urged those who have relevant information about the scam can report it to https://www.oaklandca.gov/services/report-a-crime-online or by calling the Oakland Police Non-Emergency Line at (510) 777-3333.