Heartless scammers prey on hundreds of lost pet owners, demanding ransoms or else…

neub9
By neub9
3 Min Read

Across the UK, numerous pet owners have been targeted by blackmail threats from scammers who falsely claim to have found their missing pets. According to BBC News, fraudsters are scouring online forums where distressed owners seek help finding their beloved animals, then demanding large sums of money in exchange for the pet’s safe return.

Unfortunately, the truth is that these desperate pet owners are being deceived, as the scammers do not actually have the missing animals and are exploiting the owners’ love for their pets.

These heartless scammers typically manipulate victims by describing the pet’s appearance and behavior, luring them in through social engineering. Despite reports coming from all over the UK, it was discovered that many of these scam attempts were linked to Cumbria, prompting an investigation called “Operation Façade” by local police.

In a recent case, 24-year-old Brandon Woolveridge from Barrow in Cumbria was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for blackmailing pet owners who had posted appeals on social media after their pets went missing. Woolveridge demanded money, sometimes threatening to harm the pets if owners did not comply.

  • He callously laughed at a victim who had paid him £1,000, saying he could now buy a new car.
  • He told an owner that their female dog would be used for breeding and they would never see the pet again.
  • He threatened to shoot a pet if the owner did not pay £1,000.

Police were able to apprehend Woolveridge after discovering evidence linking him to the crimes.

Detective Inspector Amanda Sykes of Cumbria Police expressed the extreme distress Woolveridge caused to his victims, and warned that he may not be the only one exploiting vulnerable pet owners.

After identifying over 200 victims across the UK, Detective Inspector Sykes emphasized the ongoing nature of the investigation, stating that anyone involved in these blackmail offenses would be pursued.

Victims of pet loss are strongly advised not to pay any rewards without verifying the legitimacy of the claim. According to Cumbria Police, one possible method of verification is to make a video call with the person claiming to have found their pet.

“If you suspect fraudulent activity, do not provide money or personal information, and contact the police,” urged Detective Inspector Sykes.

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