WJBF Investigates: Extortion scam to get missing dog back

Animals and Pets

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF-TV) — Tricie Scholer’s 10-year-old dog, Bug, is back home after getting loose almost two weeks ago.

“Somebody decided to shoot off fireworks at midnight in our backyard with the gate open and Bug got out and ran,” she said.

The Scholer family posted dozens of pictures of the dog all over social media.

There were plenty of sightings, but still no Bug.

“Is he even still alive? Did someone take him in? Is somebody’s dog chewing on him?” she said.

Then the family got a phone call from someone who likely found out about the missing dog on Craigslist.

“Saying we have your dog. We know there’s a reward we don’t think it’s enough money so we want $500 on a PayPal Credit Card,” she said.

Scholer says when the caller didn’t give enough information about her dog, she realized it must be a scam.

After that phone call, the family received several more calls from people out of the area who claimed to have Bug.

“We knew in our hearts that they didn’t have the dog, especially after dealing with them for a little while,” she said.

Thanks to the Augusta community and a good Samaritan, Bug was found Thursday night.

He has scrapes on his back and feet, but the vet says he’ll be okay.

Scholer is now telling her story so others don’t get extorted.

“An older person who that’s their whole life and they’ve never dealt with people like this. Like the IRS scams that have been going around for a while now. All the phone calls. They can easily be taken advantage of,” she said.

Law enforcement says never give any money or account numbers to someone until you meet with them in person, in a public place, and make sure they’re telling the truth.

These scams can happen to those with a missing pet, missing belongings, or even worse, a missing family member.

As always, if you have a story idea, email us at investigate@wjbf.com.

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