PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — It’s been almost a month since a Pflugerville woman’s dog ran away from home.
The month has been filled with stress trying to find the 17-year-old dog, who has early stages of dementia, because she’s also had to deal with scammers.
Sasha Aghili said she quickly got online to share pictures and get her phone number out there in case anyone saw Jack-Jack.
He walked away from home in The Park at Blackhawk neighborhood in Pflugerville one windy day in late October. Aghili said the door blew open and Jack-Jack left without anyone noticing.
The family has been looking for him ever since and she posted on nearly a dozen different sites, including Facebook and Craigslist, to get the word out.
Within hours of posting, she started getting calls from people claiming to have her dog.
“They say, ‘Are you still missing your dog?’ I say, ‘Yes.’ And then they say, ‘We have it, I have the dog,’ and then I say, ‘OK.’ And then they said, ‘We're just going to send a code though, and we need you to click on that code to verify that you're the rightful owner.’ And then right away, I'm recognizing that it's a scam,” Aghili said.
But then it gets worse.
“Another scammer sent me pictures of a gun when I told him that I did not believe him, that it was a scam, and he said, ‘Well, I'm going to kill your dog.’ And so it's been very difficult and hard on top of losing Jack that people are trying to take advantage of me and intimidate me,” Aghili said.
Pflugerville family searching for missing dog
Aghili contacted the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. She said she was told that since the phone numbers are coming from different sources, using services like Google Voice or WhatsApp, it makes it harder to trace.
The sheriff’s office told KVUE it’s looking into other situations that may be similar to Aghili’s.
The Better Business Bureau said this isn't a scam the agency is familiar with, but they offered some tips for owners of lost dogs.
- Use your email address instead of phone number on postings: Scammers could use your phone number to do a reverse phone number search and find personal sensitive information.
- Leave out a key identifying feature of your pet when posting: Write the pet’s description without one feature that you can ask strangers to verify it’s your pet if they contact you.
- Ask strangers to send a picture of your pet.
- Be wary of people who insist that you give or wire them money before they will return the pet.
- Microchip your pet and only provide personal information that you’re comfortable disclosing.
“It's horrible that he's gone because as many pet owners know that these are members of our family. It's not just an animal, and so it's incredibly difficult,” Aghili said.
If you live in Austin, there are specific ways you can report your pet missing and go through official channels to register it with the City.
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