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Finding Fergus: Naples woman targeted by scammers while searching for dog

NAPLES, Fla.– A Naples woman says scammers are trying to take advantage of her after her dog went missing.

Keli Hogan has been working around the clock to find her Boston Terrier, Fergus. She said he ran away while her stepmom was taking him for a walk around the Verona Walk community off Collier Boulevard. When they got to Verona Circle, Hogan’s stepmom fell and Fergus slipped out of his harness.

Since then, Hogan has assembled an army of volunteers composed of neighbors, K9 handlers, humane trap coordinators, and drone operators.

The search team hung posters around the area with Hogan’s number listed.

Fergus’ disappearance is also getting attention online between Fergus’ 3600 Facebook Followers and the Facebook Page “Mona Pants”, with over 103,000 followers. The Mona Pants Foundation is a non-profit organization that has consistently made posts about the search for Fergus.

Hogan said with her number being out in the world, she’s gotten credible tips from neighbors, like Jade Orchid’s off Morgan Road, whose owner spotted Fergus on Wednesday. Recently, a humane trap has been set up on their property in front of a wildlife camera. 

Hogan said she has also received illegitimate tips from scammers. Within one day she said she received five of them.

“I was having lunch and I got a text that says, ‘I have your dog’. Your heart just fills with such… you’re like, ‘oh my god. Is this it?’”

Hogan asked each person to send her a picture of Fergus to prove they found him. 

Instead, they said they wanted to verify Hogan is really Fergus’ owner.

“Well, I am the owner. You have my phone number, you got a hold of me,” she said. Some of the numbers replied and asked if they could send her a code, then have her send it back. 

Sue Law, Administrator for Pet Finders of Collier County said that’s a huge red flag.

“When you do, that gives them access to your phone and your Google account and all of your information. So you don’t ever want to enter a code,” said Law.

“It’s so important to have your phone number out there. To get your pet back, you can’t be secretive,” she said, “You just got to be careful. You don’t just give out anything until you have proof.”

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said they are aware of this kind of scam and shared the following safety tips:

  • Request a photo of the pet or a face-to-face call to see the pet.
  • Or ask them to provide a description of the pet. Ask the person to describe something about the pet that wouldn’t be visible in pictures that may have been posted.
  • Ask to meet in a public place to get the pet back
  • Don’t send personal information
  • Never wire money to anyone you don’t know or haven’t met.
  • Stop responding if something doesn’t feel right.

You can also call the CCSO fraud hotline at (239) 252-CALL (2255). The hotline is staffed by a CCSO deputy in the Financial Crimes Bureau between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Hogan has posted a $500 reward for anyone that locates Fergus. 

The post Finding Fergus: Naples woman targeted by scammers while searching for dog appeared first on NBC2 News.

NBC2 Cape Coral

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