Scammers Now Target Care.com Dog Sitters!
UPDATE October 25, 2017:
We heard from a woman who responded to this ad posted on Craigslist:
She said "I came across your website because I started Googling Ms. Susan Lee/Davis who emailed me in response to my Craigslist Ad for pet sitting services. She/He reeled me in for a good 7-8 back and forth emails until I noticed that she mentioned she had my cellphone number...which she doesn't. This was a red flag for me so I started Googling her. Thanks to your website and the people who have shared these scams, I was able to find out her intentions before I gave her the initial information she was requesting from me, my full name, complete address and phone number. This person also attached some pictures of poor souls who I don't think is him/her."
So how can we all be certain that this was a scam? Isn't it possible that the woman contacting our reader coincidentally had the same name used by other scammers? Here is one of the first messages that Ms. Susan Davids sent to our reader:
"Hello good afternoon :),Hope you're having a great day. This is Susan, Am an hard hearing single Mom, we're moving to your area and I need a pet sitter for my Dog(Billy) and a general errand helper. You can email me a brief info about you to my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you're available.Thanks :)"
Can you spot the red flags?
1. English is awkward.
2. "hard of hearing" meaning we can't talk over the phone or over video chat but must communicate via email or text messages.
3. "moving to your area" --Where is MY AREA? You don't even know.
UPDATE June 25, 2017:
Dear Readers, this scam is still alive and well! Emily contacted us recently about this scam targeting her via Care.com. She was contacted by someone named "Lisbon Patrick" (Email: Patilisbon@outlook.com; husband's name is "Mark"). Lisbon claims to be "relocating to your neighborhood from Canada" and needs care for her two dogs, "Misty a yr old Australian Terrier and Razor a 4 years old German Shepherd."
Also, Victoria contacted us about this scam. She was contacted by a woman calling herself Helen "a single Mother of two,Helen, they are 6 and 3+ years respectively .I attended California School for the Deaf where I achieved my highest qualification" She is looking for care of her Golden Retriever named Cookie.
Updated April 6, 2016:
TDS was contacted by Michele. She had a Care.com account and nearly closed it because she received so many scams through it. She sent us these recent communications with scammers who sent her checks in advance to take care of beagles, golden retrievers, and others. The photo below of the golden retriever and woman seated in the chair was sent by the scammer claiming it was "her and her dog." We used Tineye.com reverse image lookup to show that the photo was of a woman named Joane Fraser with her dogs. The photo was posted in 2008 on a website called WestCoastCanineLife.com. Many thanks to Michele for sending us all this content! Her hope is that others may avoid being victimized by exposing these scams. And a final footnote... She had fun with the scammers by telling them that the bank told her the checks were fraudulent, then contacted the police, who came to speak with her at the bank. The police, she said, called the FBI and now they all want to skype with the scammer!
Text: Morning! I'm Sharon, I need your service as a pet caregiver for my beagles while I work, email me on email@example.com for more details.
On Mar 15, 2016 11:02 PM, Sharon Matlock <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thank you for your response, I hope you are doing good? I'm really glad to know your interest, I'm sure you will be fine with my pets as they're very friendly. My babies are two wonderful beagles, they are just a years old, vaccinated to date and very healthy. I'm a Geologist and I travel very often for business. I had someone that usually cares for the babies every time I am not home but she moved to Canada due to some personal reasons, hence the reason I am just looking for the service of a new pet care provider.
I'm in need of a pet caregiver starting from 11th of April because I will be arriving on the 10th of April, as I have to continue a project in your area and I will like you to care for my 2 dogs every Monday - Friday from 9am through 3pm either at your place that is if you board pets in your home or in the hotel/apt where I will be staying in your area depending on which is convenient for you,your friends and family can also help I don't mind as long as they are also pet lovers.
I am yet to be lodged in any apartment by my employer but I have already been informed that it is in your area so you have nothing to worry about as you will be the first to know once I have the address.
I will need your service for probably more than a month depending on what you are looking for as I plan on employing you permanently and you will be picking my dogs for the walk at my place, after my arrival,you can also pet sit them at my room no problem,I will be paying you $450 a week to care for my pets unless if you want daily or hourly payments.
I want to let you know that I am relaxed to having you care for them. I will be making arrangement for Pet Products dogs such as (Dog Bed,Dog Crates, foods etc), I believe that will be of help in taking care of them so you can have some time to look into some other things.
Also, pay check for your first week services would be arriving as soon as we finalize plans and make immediate arrangement so I can be rest assured that I have secured your service and I will be leaving my pets with you. I will need you to get back to me with your detailed information as listed below:
Home Address(Not P.O.Box):
Phone Number (Home and Cell):
Kindly get back to me as soon as possible with your reply so that we will proceed immediately and finalize all arrangements. I look forward to your prompt response.
From: Sharon Matlock <email@example.com>
Date: Mar 25, 2016 5:22 PM
Subject: Re: MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE JOB
Thanks so much for your understanding and cooperation. Your information has been received and you have been considered for this position. But I need your full name, to be on the pay check. So I will get back to you with where I will be lodging and I will make sure it will not be far away from your home for your convenience so you have nothing to worry about okay. And my babies names are Max and Nikki.
So, as soon as the payment is been mailed to your location and track details will be provided to you as to know the delivery date, and the pay check it will be coming from my employers as my upfront payment so it is to serve as payment for my pets utilities as well as your first week's fee.
I already have a customer who I always get my pet products from and I have told her what my pets need and she has said as soon as she confirms payment she will supply it to the hotel so you have nothing to worry about as the items might even get there before the 7th or 8th of April, I will contact the hotel to pick it up and keep it for me till my arrival on the 10th of April.
What I will need you to do once you get the check is that you proceed to your bank and deposit into your Bank Account, hope you have a valid Bank Account? And once it clears on the next day you withdraw the money take your week's pay and then send the rest of the cash to the pet store owner. All further information will be forwarded to you as soon as you get back to me with the deposit receipt slip for verification once the check is been deposited into your account for clearance. I look forward to your prompt response again.
On Mar 28, 2016 8:36 AM, Sharon Matlock <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Good Morning Michele,
I'd like you to confirm your information below for issuance of payment, I mean doing this for accuracy so that the pay check won't be in wrong names or sent to a wrong address.
Name on Check: Michele [TDS REMOVED DETAILS]
Home Address: [TDS REMOVED DETAILS]
City: [TDS REMOVED DETAILS]
State: [TDS REMOVED DETAILS]
Zip Code: [TDS REMOVED DETAILS]
Phone Number (Home and Cell): [TDS REMOVED DETAILS]
My beagles names are Max and Nikki once again, and I am sure my babies will be in the right hands with you huh? Then, the pet store owner information will be provided once you send me the deposit slip. So let me know if you have any further questions before commence with having the check mailed to you as soon as possible.
On Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 5:10 PM, Sharon Matlock <email@example.com> wrote:
Thanks once more for your cooperation. Kindly reconfirm your names to be writing on Check in my previous message, as to avoid error. The payment will be mailed out to you this week from my employer's financier and I'll let you know as soon as it's sent, so you can know when to look out for it. You'll be receiving a payment check of $3,850 out of which you will deduct your first week service fee of $450 and send the rest to the supplier for the pet store manager for the delivery of the pet product. I'll get the supplier information across to you in due time. Also I want you to check your email on a regular basis, I might have updates for you. And here is my official cell phone number 512-430-1557 you can text me anytime. Thanks and God bless you.
From: Sharon Matlock <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Apr 1, 2016 7:57 AM
Subject: Re: MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE JOB
Good Morning Michele,
Sorry for the silence, I had a couple of appointments so I can't made it to email you yesterday. Your payment check has been processed successfully and should be mail out to you today. So you can be expecting the delivery to your location on Monday or Tuesday but I will send you the track details immediately I have it. And once you receive the check, kindly proceed to your Bank and get it deposited, and you email the deposit receipt slip for confirmation so as to proceed.
Here is the fraudulent check sent to Michele. Notice that the name represented on the check has nothing to do with the sender named Sharon. Michele looked up the corporation. They make name badges, nameplates, etc. She also called the Bank and emailed a copy of the check.
GOLDEN RETRIEVER SCAM: (Notice the sender claims to be deaf. This is often the scammer's method of operation as an excuse why you can't have a video/phone call with him.)
Text: Hello there how are you doing? My Name is Susan I'm currently in Virgina but in process of moving to your area,I read your profile on care and will like to
Text: have you as my pet sitter,I'm willing to pay 25/hour. Starting 5th of April,9AM- 1PM,Mondays-Thursdays "or" 1pm-4pm Saturdays and Sundays.Email me your
Text: resume/references to(email@example.com) for more details.
From: sussy baker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mar 25, 2016 1:06 PM
Subject: DETAILS OF JOB
How is your night going? Thanks for your response, I am glad to read from you. I am a single Mother of two, Richard and Scott, they are 5 and 1+ years respectively I attended Alabama School for the Deaf where I achieved my highest qualification. I have my own business (Self Employed). I attend the catholic. We are in the process of relocating to your area. I am 38 and I am hard of hearing. I work based on the development and counseling of the deaf people in the community, I am moving to your area in few weeks with my adorable dog and I really need a honest and responsible care for my pet. Cookie he is cute and adorable(Golden Retriever) he is very friendly and playful.he is also very much comfortable with other dogs and cat too he enjoys being indoors with us. Going for walks Cookie is very favorite activity. he plays well with other dogs too. Cookie is house trained and crate trained and have contacted a suppliers for the dog Cage, toys, blankets,food,bed.and other things you will care for him starting[8th of April]I will appreciate if you can tell me a few things about yourself and maybe attach one or two pictures of you, below are your duties:
House Sitting,Mail/Newspaper Retrieval,Watering Plants,Pet Sitting/walking,Daily Feeding
This could be a temporary/permanent job. It depends on what your schedule looks like but I do like to be sure if you are available the first month. I made some research on the wages for your service and I have decided to start with $25 per hour and as time goes we can negotiate on a new pay as my dog get along with you. I want to inform you that I have a seminar I will be attending to as soon as I arrive and will be having an interview section with you immediately I arrive with my Dog. Also I will like to include your pay to our payroll for the period just to have you booked down and secure for my Pet. I will be needing the following information below to issue out the check to you and I need your direct mobile number so I can text you in case I need to pass an urgent information:
I have made some arrangements with the dog utility suppliers, so as soon as you get the payment, you will deduct your first week pay and have the rest sent to the dog utility suppliers as soon as the check clears, I hope my Dog will have the best of time while is in your care and I hope you will treat him right just like yours, attached is a picture of me kids & cookie. Get back to me as I have a lot of issue to put in place prior to my arrival. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Thank you and God bless.
[TDS used Tineye.com to do a reverse image lookup and show that this photo was of a woman named Joane Fraser with her dogs. The photo was posted in 2008 on a website called WestCoastCanineLife.com.]
On Mar 31, 2016 6:41 AM, sussy baker <email@example.com> wrote:
Good morning Michele , I hope you had swell night?thank you for the information and l`m very happy to know you want to care for my pet,The start date is [4th of April],The pay rate is $25/Hour also l will be living in [TDS REMOVED DETAILS] ,and will like to know if we can meet at nearest McDonald to you(3rd of April)we can have a short meeting to conclude on other arrangements and discussion about the pet needs and activities before work commences.....by 6.00PM if that works for you?..Just to make it clear, The check will come in the amount of $2,880.$400 goes for your first week deposit and the balance of $2,480 goes to the dog equipment suppliers on delivery and l will provide you with the suppliers information once the money is available.
I'm excited and look forward to meeting you soonest
God Bless you.
On Mar 31, 2016 2:34 PM, sussy baker <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hello Michele,How is your day going? I have been busy with arrangements and was ensuring your check get processed. Thanks for your love and concern for my family. Your Money order was processed in the amount of $2,880 cause some items is included and was mailed via Fedex with the tracking number 775995701935 and it already showed delivered and left at your door step . Kindly deposit it into your account today thru online banking or ATM so the funds can be made available to you promptly for purchase of Dogs Utility
I await your email as soon as you have received and deposited the check so that I can contact my bank to ensure the funds are released.
Thank you and God blessed.
From: sussy baker <email@example.com>
Date: Apr 1, 2016 9:30 AM
Subject: Re: PAYMENT UPDATED
Good morning Michelle, I hope you had swell night?Kindly ensure to have the check deposited first thing this morning and get back to me once you're done.
From: sussy baker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Apr 1, 2016 2:21 PM
Subject: Re: PAYMENT UPDATED
Has the check been deposited?
Text exchange between Michele and "Mrs. Baker"...
Baker Text: I just sent you a message via email. So kindly reconfirmed your names to be writing on Check as to avoid error. I look forward to your prompt reply. Reg
Baker Text: I just emailed you with the tracking number of the payment package sent to you and it show it's been delivered to you and left at your front door.
Baker Text: Kindly check your email and proceed with the given instruction. I await your email/text. Mrs.baker.
Michele Text: Hi. So sorry it is taking me so long. But I am wanting to know if before this is to happen if we can meet first ? Please understand that I am just being cautious. With the way life is today I have to be careful in knowing that this trustworthy. Can the meeting happen first. And we can go from there. Please understand. I just need to have piece of mind. Thanks again.
Baker Text: You should know I'm a reputable woman and I consider my nanny as family and I wouldn't put you a thousand miles close to anything or situation that could hurt you.
Baker Text: I trust you with the money for the purchase of Dogs utility cause I believe you're competent and the perfect fit for the job.. It's only ideal that I included the payment for the items to your check since the items will be delivered to you prior my arrival and I won't reverse the check. Kindly ensure to have the check deposited.
Michele Text: Thanks. But I would feel more comfortable with meeting you first before I commence with the check.
[The scammer next mixes up his scams and starts texting as about the Care.com wheelchair scam! This idiot is probably juggling many scams at once... And mixing them up.]
Baker Text: I won't want my son to be stocked and we will need the wheelchair on our arrival. Kindly do this for the sake of my kids and you won't regret working with me. The dog is meant for my son.
Michele Text: I would like to meet your son. But I still need to meet with you before anything happens. Thanks.
Baker Text: Good morning ,How is your day going? We will be meeting 6th of April cause we will be needing the wheelchair on our arrival and I won't want my son to be stocked. Have a wonderful Sunday.
Here is the second fraudulent check sent to Michele. Again, notice that the name represented on the check has nothing to do with the sender named Susan.
Michele's deluge of scams continued, though she stopped responding. Here is another text she received...
Text: Hi I'm Sandra, I need your service as a pet care giver for my beagles while i work, email me on email@example.com more details
Updated March 16, 2016:
Natalie sent us another scam email she received from "Peter Steve" claiming to have a dog named Blitzen:
On Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 1:14 PM, Peter Steve <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thanks responding to our email inquiry regards the pet sitting position. My name is Peter Steve my wife's name is Jennifer with our first daughter Shirley & our dog Blitzen. My wife is 4 month's pregnant and we are in the process of re-locating from , QUEBEC CANADA to your city. My wife & I are professional Tourist but at her stage of pregnancy, I will prefer she does not work full time. She will be working few hours per week while i do most of the aspect.
I will be offering you $350.00 weekly at any convenient time of yours, three times in a week probably Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to handle the pet sitting position. We will be needing your services for the next seven months if you will be available, hope two/three hours will be enough to take care of blizten in a day, or anytime you are convenient with, you just have to let me know your time schedule as for us to fix a time that won't be a problem or inconvenient your other daily activities and also you will be helping my wife with running some errands when necessary.
We sincerely need someone who can help us to taking care of the Blitzen,while am off to work. I have a feeling you are fit for this position, but you will need to prove yourself to be a reliable, honest, and hard working person. We would be arriving on the 10th of April and we can meet the next day for some introduction so we can get to know more about each other in person before you start working, More so, I will be making arrangements in renting an apartment close to you but it depends on your location as I will be needing your services
Blitzen is wonderful and a very bright, cheerful and clever, sociable, playful, friendly, vigilant, and very loyal, attentive, and calm. Loving around children, and intelligent he does not bark very often, his soft and kind to be around.
We have a financier who is helping us with the moving transition. It's okay if you prefer to sit him in my house or yours as i can drop him at your home every day and will greatly appreciate if you will be delighted to accept this offer as we would be arriving soon; I hope you are fit for the position with full commitment and our location will not be far from you which is the reason why we want to secure a pet sitter before our agent get us a house the Keys and the description of the house will be mailed to you as soon as possible .Also, you will be helping us in purchasing groceries and some dog food for our home complex before or on the day of our arrival. I will be staying in the states for about 7 months with my families and you will be rendering us your services for that duration, if you meet up to our expectation with your services.
We have a Financier based in the states who he will be handling your upfront payment and as well as our other expenses you will be running for us before our arrival. I will instruct him to issue out your pay for the first week before our arrival so as to secure your service and show our commitment. If this employment opportunity is acceptable to you my financier would be needing the following Information to prepare and mail out the paycheck:
Contact Address: (No P.O. Box)
City, Zip Code:
Home phone number:
Cell phone number:
Active Email Address:
I will as well like to run a background check on you because i would love to be sure Blitzen will be safe with you and he will be in a safer environment i hope you understand my concerns.
QUESTIONS FOR YOU
1) What academic qualifications do you possess?
2) Do you have any relevant certificate(s) to back up your pet sitting/dog walking Career?
3) How old are you?
4) Are you married?
5) Tell us more about your temperament with animals.
We want your total cooperation and attention to details before you commit to this position. We promise you a great time while working with our loving and humble family. I will be waiting to read from you soon
Updated February 27, 2016:
TDS was contacted by Natalie who informed us that she had received a check in advance to care for the dog of someone identified as Sarah Cathy <email@example.com>. After depositing the check in her account, she soon found our article and realized that the check was fraudulent and she was being scammed. She sent us this recent exchange of emails between she and the scammer....
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 2:46 AM, Natalie wrote:
here is the receipt for the deposited checks. It will probably take a day or two to clear. What are the hours you need me Monday through Thursday?
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 3:11 AM, Sarah Cathy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Okay no problem I will contact my payroll to make the funds available to you within 24 hours of been deposited. Thank you and make the rest if your day wobnderful
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:55 AM, Natalie wrote:
I'm just catching up on emails now. I had to go to the vet today and run a lot of errands.
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 4:09 PM, Sarah Cathy <email@example.com> wrote:
Okay,I got informed that the funds went through and is now available to you.Kindly check and get back to me once you have access to the funds
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 1:42 AM, Natalie wrote:
I just looked and the check has cleared.
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 4:57 PM, Sarah Cathy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Okay good I want you to pay for the dogs utility and core vaccine today so that it can be deliver to my new apartment by this time of tomorrow I will email you with list of goods you will be expecting to check up on delivery in my new apartment. Are you with your Debit card?
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 2:05 AM, Natalie wrote:
Yes, I have a debit card.
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 5:08 PM, Sarah Cathy <email@example.com> wrote:
Okay I will get back to you in a bit with the information you are to transfer the money to as soon I concludes with her .
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 2:12 AM, Natalie wrote:
Who is it that is receiving the money?
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 5:13 PM, Sarah Cathy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
The dog utility supplier
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 2:15 AM, Natalie wrote:
I'm curious why you aren't paying her directly our of your own account instead of doing it this way? It seems like it would be simpler. [TDS NOTE: You go girl! Excellent question to ask!]
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 5:23 PM, Sarah Cathy <email@example.com> wrote:
I included your first week upfront payment for you to be rest assured that you've secure the job and I want you run errands for me before our arrival so that everything can work smoothly.You earn my trust just because I always consider my nanny as my family. I hope you understand me [TDS NOTE: "Sarah" didn't answer Natalie's question raising a big red flag.]
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 2:25 AM, Natalie wrote:
Ok, but I'm not a nanny. I just agreed to watching the two dogs. Will you be at your apartment tomorrow to receive the dog supplies?
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 5:27 PM, Sarah Cathy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
You will be the one to check up the goods on delivery in my apartment
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 2:32 AM, Natalie wrote:
Then I should have them delivered here to my place, wouldn't that be simpler?
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 2:33 AM, Sarah Cathy <email@example.com> wrote:
Okay no problem I will forward your address to the supplier as soon am concludes with her
On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 5:42 PM, Sarah Cathy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
You're to locate two different Moneygram money transfer outlet with your debit card and send it to the supplier of the Dogs utility with the below information. Name: Melissa Yanez Gonzalez , City: Anaheim , State : California , Zip Code : 92801 .This all the information you need to transfer the funds. You are to send the money $1100 and another $1200 in two different Moneygram location respectively, Kindly deduct your first week salary and use the remaining funds for sending fee. Kindly get back to me with the references number and the receipts of the two transactions.
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:19 AM, Natalie wrote:
Why should I use two different Moneygram locations? Also I went over to the address you gave me and they don't know you. Someone was living there and said their house is for sale. [TDS NOTE: Both are major red flags! Good for Natalie to check it out and ask.]
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:24 AM, Sarah Cathy <email@example.com> wrote:
You have to split the funds so that there will be no hold on the money. I just concluded with my realtor he told me they will pack out from the house . The house aint for sale but for ren. Just follow my instructions and everything will turn out fine at the end.
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:34 AM, Natalie wrote:
The house has a for sale sign on it and is listed on a realty site.
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:38 AM, Sarah Cathy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I will get back to you shortly lemme get through my realtor.I do really appreciate your concerns about my family
I will iron the issue out proceed to make the payment so far the goods will be deliver to your house. Thank you.
Lemme know when you are done with the transaction. Thank you I await your response
Natalie never completed the transaction. After investigating online, she realized it was a scam. We urged her to contact the Anaheim, CA police and explain the scam, hoping that they would see who came to pick up the moneygrams. Sadly, they turned her down and these scammers are free to continue preying on others.
The Daily Scam was recently contacted by a woman named Morgan to let our readers know that the scammers who were targeting Care.com members offering child-care services have now begun to target Care.com members who offer dog-care services. Let’s hope this means that the scammers are having a harder time convincing their potential child-care victims of their scams.
Here’s what Morgan had to say…
“I read your article about the Care.com scammer who is ‘hard of hearing’ and in a different location but is moving or visiting, etc. I run a dog-sitting business and use Care.com for a lot of my business. I have gotten TWO emails doing this EXACT THING. One claimed to be named Kate Perry (real clever), who claimed she was visiting for business and needed someone to watch her two Beagles. But the most recent [one] was by the name of Christina Morgan, which I saw in [your] article. She wanted a sitter for her dog ‘Blitzen’ as soon as she moved to the States from Toronto. BOTH claimed they were hard of hearing, BOTH claimed to be from out of state, BOTH had horrible spelling and grammar, and BOTH were unwilling to pay cash or meet me before I accepted the job. [I] Just wanted to let you know that the [scammers] aren't just targeting nannies anymore, they also target dog sitters. Same thing happened to my friend who is also a dog sitter on the same day. She also used the name Christina Morgan and the dog name Blitzen. Just wanted to help update the story a bit! Thanks!!”
Morgan, thank you! And to the many Care.com members who have contacted us with their stories… Keep them coming! The more all of you share your stories online, the more we can reduce the success of these fraudsters targeting folks on Care.com.
By the way.... Petsit.com has also posted a page of these type of scams targeting pet sitters. Check it out on their website. In May of 2014 one of the scammers also talked about his dog named 'Blitzen.' Coincidence? We doubt it!
Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net