Hackers targeting animal rescues, potential adopters with online scam
Scammers are taking control of animal shelters’ Facebook pages and making fake posts to profit.
CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Animal rescuers are reporting that hackers are targeting them by taking control of their accounts and using them to scam potential adopters out of money.
Amy Goff runs Fred’s Mission Rescue and Sanctuary, and she said her rescue has been impacted by the scam.
According to Goff, it started when she received a text message from someone who was pretending to be with Petfinder and was asking for information to access the rescue’s account.
Goff said the hackers then used that data to take over the rescue’s Petfinder site, an email account and the rescue’s Facebook page.
“They got into my Facebook page and then... accepted a friend request, made themselves an admin and then kicked all of us off,” Goff said.
Now, Goff says the hackers are making posts on the rescue’s Facebook page where they are impersonating rescuers.
The scammers have posted photos of random animals, and in the post, they ask potential adopters to click a link. The link instructs the potential adopter to pay hundreds of dollars for the animal upfront.
However, Goff said the dogs in the photos are not with the rescue, which means the scammers are simply pocketing the money.
“At least two followers and someone else I know was desperate for a French bulldog puppy and paid $500,” Goff said.
Other local rescues have reported similar issues. FOX19 NOW Tech Expert Dave Hatter said there are ways to add layers of protection.
“It’s almost impossible to trust anything that you find online unless you verify it yourself,” Hatter said. “It’s just sad that they prey on both the organizations behind it and the individuals that are being defrauded in this case, so turn on multi-factor authentication, and the other thing is, use a strong password.”
As for Goff’s rescue, she said she does not know if they will ever get access to their Facebook page again, so she plans to make a new one.
She did report what happened to Facebook, asking for the hacked page to be taken down so no one else is scammed, but she said the page remains up and under the control of the hackers.
The rescue has regained control of its Petfinder page.
Goff said she reported what happened to police and will be reporting it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
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