(Update; Bend Police join in warning)
Appears to be targeting people who have lost pets
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Humane Society of Central Oregon warned the public Wednesday night to be aware of scam callers falsely claiming the intended victim’s animal is having emergency surgery at the shelter – and that immediate payment is needed, by phone.
HSCO received five calls within a two -hour period late Wednesday afternoon from people reporting that a man called them, claiming to be a manager with HSCO, said Lynne Ouchida, the shelter's director of community partnerships.. (At present, she said, HSCO has no male managers).
Ouchida said the scammer is telling people their missing animals are at HSCO, they are injured and having emergency surgery at their clinic.
"A husband called HSCO to verify if his dog was here, and his wife was on speakerphone with the scammer," Ouchida said. "Our team member overheard the young-sounding male use general medical terms like nerve issues, broken bones and hips."
The caller is requesting that people pay for the surgery over the phone -- and that people meet him at the shelter to claim their animals after payment.
"Victims of the scam seem to be people who have lost pets, and they are indeed wanting them back and vulnerable to the calls," Ouchida said.
Bend Police issued their own alert Thursday morning about the scam calls regarding HSCO, urging those who get them to hang up and contact the shelter to verify whether it has found their pet.
"Remember that reputable organizations will not demand payment for services with gift cards, online apps like Zelle, or other nontraditional methods of payment.," Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said.
"The Humane Society of Central Oregon will not ask for payment over the phone," she added.