Have you ever gotten a message on social media, containing a heartbreaking image of a shelter dog or cat, urging you to donate money immediately to help save its life? The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has issued a fraud alert, warning animal lovers to take a closer look at who is asking for donations before sending any money.
According to the LADA’s website, so-called “animal shelter scammers” could be preying on your compassion. These people will actually visit shelters, take pictures of animals in cages, and then post them on social media, warning people that they are in danger of dying in a “high-kill shelter” unless they receive your money to help rescue them. Sometimes they also use old pictures of shelter animals that they have taken from animal welfare websites around the country.
Besides social media, these images can also be posted on flyers and could be sent to you via email or regular mail. Some scammers will even call you on the phone.
How can well-meaning animal lovers protect themselves from this type of animal rescue scam? The LADA offers the following common-sense tips:
- Verify that the organization or person asking you for money is a legitimate 501(C)3 charity. This information should be readily available if the charity is real.
- Double check the information on the specific animal. Is it a real animal currently housed in a shelter that is in imminent danger of euthanasia?
- If the animal is currently living in a shelter, talk to the shelter directly and ask them what is being done to help the animal. Are they authorizing anyone to solicit funds to save the animal from euthanasia?
Obviously, many legitimate animal welfare non-profits welcome your donation, but they certainly don’t want you to send your money to a 3rd party scammer using images of their animals to cheat you out of your hard-earned cash!
Interested in learning more? The LADA has created a video about animal shelter scams which you can see here: