Lost pet scam prompts warning from Roanoke Police

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 7:20 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Police have posted a warning about a scam involving lost pets.

They say an individual who was seeking a lost pet recently received a call from someone impersonating a police officer.

The scammer told the pet owner to pay a certain amount of money to reclaim the animal.

“You will never have to pay a police officer or animal warden anything like that. There will never be a transaction of money. That’s one,” said Crime Prevention Specialist Caitlyn Cline. “Two, we will identify ourselves and say, hey, this is an animal warden with the Roanoke Police Department. We’ve found your lost pet.”

Cline said the animal warden will take the pet to the owner’s residence, or make arrangements to retrieve the animal at the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection.

Following is the complete text of the warning posted on the Roanoke City Police Department Facebook page:

SCAM ALERT: Roanoke Police have been made aware of a scam in our area involving individuals who have lost animals getting phone calls from someone impersonating a Roanoke Police Officer or Animal Warden.

The caller advises that they have found your animal and you owe them a certain amount of money to reclaim your pet. The calls come from a blocked phone number, and the caller requests that you meet them in a location that is not the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection (RCACP) to retrieve your animal.

Roanoke Animal Wardens WILL NEVER ask for money in exchange for the return of your pet. They will also always identify themselves and send you to the RCACP to retrieve your lost pet, or bring the animal back to your residence. We will never meet you anywhere other than the RCACP or your home to return your pet.

If you receive a phone call that sounds like this, please hang up and call the non-emergency dispatch number, (540) 853-2411, to verify if it was a call from the RPD Animal Wardens. If you have already received a phone call that sounds like this, please call us at (540) 853-2212 or stop by the police department to speak with officers about this situation.