Wisconsin woman Patricia Howell’s basset hound Happy went missing on Sunday 20 May, and Howell received messages from a con artist threatening to kill the dog if they didn’t receive $600 in Bitcoin.
She posted her notice on a site called Pawboost along with her personal details. The following day a tip-off from other Pawboost users led to the safe return of Happy – but minutes after the dog’s safe return, Howell received a threatening text message.
“I have your dog. Send $600 in Bitcoin to the Bitcoin address below.”
It’s possible that the scammer or scammers were actively trawling the message board to find the details of people with missing pets in an effort to exploit them during a difficult time. By refusing to send a second message, the scam is crafted so as to prevent victims from demanding proof that the scammer really has the pet – the scammers could conceivably be located anywhere in the world.
“I knew it was a scam because I had Happy, but it was heartless and cold and it was so mean-spirited,” Howell said.