A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Put the bite on fake pet-sitting gigs — be sure you know who you are dealing with

By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

Looking for a pet sitter? (KyForward photo)

If you’re a pet sitter and receive a request to watch a potential client’s pet, make sure you know who you’re dealing with.

Help Wanted

The scam works like this: the pet sitter receives an urgent request by email or text to watch a beloved pet. The message includes basic information like length of time they’re needed, the type of pet they’ll care for, any specific instructions about the sitting schedule and maybe some photos of the pet and the owner.

Everything is designed to look legitimate to entice pet sitters into accepting the job.

Suspicious Turn of Events

If the job is accepted, the pet sitter provides their contact information and soon after, a check arrives in the mail for much more than what was originally negotiated for the job.

Instructions are given to deposit the check, withdraw any cash needed for their services and any incidental expenses, and wire the excess to the owner.

By now, the whole transaction sounds suspicious.

If the pet sitter tries to get in touch with the client, the only way to communicate with them is by email or text. This is one of the hallmarks of a check overpayment scheme. When it comes to scams like this, if the pet sitter deposits the check, they’re responsible for the overdraft charges and any consequential fees from the bank after it’s determined that the check is fake.

Watch Out

Before accepting any pet-sitting job, it’s best to screen potential clients carefully.

Ask detailed questions, and press for an in-person meeting with the pet and the owner. By doing so, any would-be scammers will more than likely decide to go somewhere else. If you’ve been a victim of this scheme, report it to authorities immediately and then report it to scamtracker.org.

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

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