AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- If you’re looking to add a new fur-baby to your family, heads up. Scammers are using social media to target you.

Scammers are using social media to take advantage of people looking for a puppy or people who love animals and want to help them.

They do it through people you may know.

First, they hack someone’s profile. Then they post pictures of full-breed puppies, like yorkies or golden doodles, saying they are only asking for a re-homing fee, which they want up front. They will usually ask for it by gift card, or Zelle.

Once people pay, the scammer disappears with the money and leaving them without a puppy.

Stephanie Ford with Friends of North Augusta Animals explained that there are ways to spot these scammers.

“The first thing is to check out the profile of there person who is posting. Is it a new profile? Have they not posted in a while? The second is to use Google. Reverse image search what the person has posted. A lot of these scams, they just pull stock photos from the internet,” said Ford.

Ford said the best way to avoid these scammers is to adopt, don’t shop. Finding yourself new furry family member at a local shelter or rescue saves a life and protects you as well.

If you spend any time on social media, you probably see posts from people claiming they found an injured dog and asking for financial help. But, you should be careful before you offer to help. This is another way internet scammers are taking advantage of people.

They are taking advantage of people who want to help those injured animals. When you send a message to a scammer offering to help, they will send you a link. The link is supposed to take you to a website where you can donate money to help with vet care.

What actually happens when you click on the link? You download a virus allowing them access to your information.

Ford advises people to pay attention when private messaging with someone about an injured animal, even if you think you are talking to a friend.

“You definitely want to be aware of the way they are talking to you. A lot of times, these scammers, English is not their first language. And so they way that your friend would speak to you might be, ‘Hi, how are you?’ But this person might say ‘Hi, I hope that you’re having a wonderful day.’ Very different from what you normally would get with a friend,” she explained.

Ford also advises people to always check out profiles of people claiming to be helping an injured animal. If it’s a brand new profile or the profile of a friend or acquaintance who hasn’t posted in a while, you should be suspicious.

Also ask to speak to them on the phone. Scammers will do everything they can to avoid that.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.