Animals

Scammer Poses As BARC Staff Member To Target Lost Pet Owners

Pet owners hopeful for a chance to be reunited with their lost animals, instead came face to face with a scammer trying to steal their money.
Pet owners hopeful for a chance to be reunited with their lost animals, instead came face to face with a scammer trying to steal their money. Photo by BARC Animal Shelter and Adoption Center
Imagine receiving a phone call that BARC Animal Shelter and Adoption Center has relocated your missing pet just to realize that the person on the other end of the line does not have your animal and only wants your money.

Unfortunately, this was several pet owners’ realities as BARC announced on Saturday that a scammer was targeting Houston residents who lost their animals, according to a social media post on their Facebook page.

SCAM ALERT! Someone is calling Houston residents who have recently lost pets using a phone number masked to show BARC's...

Posted by BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions on Saturday, June 3, 2023
Cory Stottlemyer, BARC’s deputy shelter director, said their facility received around six calls on from local owners who wanted to confirm that staff members had relocated their pet after they got a phone call from a man who said he was with BARC and claimed to have their animals.

The man identified himself as Erin Grady and asked for $250 to cover the cost of microchipping if they wanted their pets back. The phone number the man called from showed BARC’s real customer service line.
Staff members responded and corrected any false information given to these owners and contacted those who left messages back, he said.

According to Stottlemyer, there was only one confirmed caller that did pay the man, and she was directed immediately to contact her bank and reach out to law enforcement to make a report.

BARC does not know how the man got the contact information of the lost pet owners. Since Saturday, there were no additional scam calls reported to the animal shelter and adoption center.

Stottlemyer said BARC does not request payments over the phone. So, if a pet owner is contacted to pay money during a call from anyone identifying themselves with their organization, they should not engage, hang up and contact them directly.

Where:

BARC Animal Shelter and Adoption Center
3200 Carr Street
Houston, TX 77026

Contact:

Customer service line: 832-395-9084

BARC information and requests: 3-1-1

Hours of operation for lost pet services:


Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.