A con artist in Phoenix, AZ is preying on owners of lost pets to make a fast buck. He has a network of friends keeping their eyes peeled for "lost pet" ads in the newspapers, not to mention flyers. In my situation, I lost 2 of my dogs. After a week, one was found, badly injured, but alive (she's fine now - minus one eye and plenty of steel birdshot underneath her coat) and the second remained missing. I received a collect call from a person in Arizona identifying himself as a cable subcontractor employee who had been working the week prior in the area where I live. He said that he'd witnessed a co-worker picking up one of my dogs. He said that he couldn't catch the other one. He didn't want the reward money offered, just the money it would take to get a pet carrier and health certificate in order to fly my dog cross country back to me in North Carolina. He wanted to remain anonymous because the person he said had picked up my dog was his supervisor. He said his job would be in jeopardy if the supervisor found out. He said that his conscience had gotten the best of him and that his wife had urged him to call and get the dog home.
I tend not to believe anything anyone says, but this guy was good. He was better than psychic, telling me things about my dog that only someone who'd seen her would have known. I scrambled to wire the money to him via Western Union. I had arranged for him to pick up the money anonymously, mentioning only a code word to the Western Union clerk in order to get the money. He called 5 hours after he picked up the money, saying that the dog would be on the first plane out the next morning. That's the last call I received from him. None of the airlines had any animals flying alone. They also mentioned that you cannot ship animals anonymously. You must prove your identity before they will ship an animal. I stayed in touch with the airlines for 3 days, still wanting to believe that my dog was coming home. After she never showed up, I called Western Union and told them the whole story. I found out, against Western Union's policy, where and when the money was picked up. I also found out that there is video surveillance at the place where the money was picked up. I notified the Phoenix police department of this, but unfortunately, their representative said that they can't pursue this as a criminal matter because I made a verbal agreement to exchange money for my dog. Where's the justice in that? Where's my dog? I only wish I could get my hands on the video tape, rent a billboard and plaster this horrible person's face all over creation. The money's not the big deal; it's what he's putting pet owners through in order to make his living.
Lesson Learned: Don't ever send anyone money, especially anonymously. Don't give too much detail about your lost pet when placing an ad.