Facebook users are being urged to beware of a scam designed to tug on the heartstrings of kind-hearted Aussies, which is increasingly popping up in community groups on the social media platform.
"I hit this pup with my truck in lllawarra. He is alive but he can't stand. I feel so miserable, I took him to the vet, he is not chipped," a seemingly innocent post on an Illawarra buy-and-sell Facebook group reads. "I know someone is looking for him. Please bump this post to help me find the owner." Along with the appeal is a heartbreaking photo of a blood-drenched dog on a leash.
The problem with the post, which has been shared 687 times since January 17, is that it's one of many identical appeals that have been shared by Facebook users across the globe from as far back as 2018.
Apart from some small changes, such as a different image, the post is essentially the same each time and is tailored to a specific area to appear authentic. The post in the Illawarra buy-and-sell group has been labelled as containing false information after members who'd seen similar posts elsewhere warned others that it must be a scam.
The scam, which counts on good Samaritans who wish to help those in need, uses a bait-and-switch tactic that may be aimed at obtaining personal information which could lead to identity theft, non-profit group Better Business Bureau says.
They add that the scheme has many variations which share a common emotional or urgent message that encourages people to share the news with their friends. They are usually posted on local buy-and-sell groups on Facebook due to the sense of community and trust within these crowds.
An article from USA Today addressed the scam in October last year, with University of Cincinnati professor Jeffrey Blevins commenting about how the technique is used by scammers to identify people who may be vulnerable to other scam methods.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.