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Fraudster making money off pet-owner despair

Chilliwack RCMP say a fraudster is trying to cash in on the heart-break of lost pets.

Since March, police have received several complaints. Each time, the fraudster is contacting people with missing pets, presumably getting information about them from signs or social-media postings. People often include a picture and personal information about their pet, which the fraudster uses to appear authentic.

The fraudster claims to have the pet and asks for gas money to return the animal. After getting the gas money, the fraudster is never heard from again.

"This fraudster is capitalizing on the fact that people will do just about anything to have their pets returned," said RCMP Cst. Tracy Wolbeck.

The most obvious way to avoid being a victim, Wolbeck adds, is to not send money to anyone you don't know. Beyond that, the RCMP recommends withholding information when making signs or social media postings.

For example, if your pet has a crooked tail or unique markings, leave this out. That way, only someone who's actually found the animal can prove themselves legit.

"It is really unfortunate to have to put out a public warning of this nature but criminals will stoop very low to get what they want," Wolbeck said.

Anyone with information about this or similar incidents is asked to call the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers (anonymously) at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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