DENVER -- Someone is threatening to kill missing dogs in Denver if their owners don't pay a ransom, and more victims are coming forward.
After Denver7's Jaclyn Allen first reported on the scam on Thursday, another dog owner posted that he had received the same threat, from the same phone number.
Mike Stein said his Golden Retriever puppy, Odi, disappeared Monday afternoon from his yard, and he got a text Thursday morning demanding he pay $500 in less than four hours "or your dog dies."
"I knew it was a scam," said Stein.
To Kari McCabe, the threat sounded all too familiar. She is searching for her missing Shih Tzu, Buddah, and was texted that same demand Thursday morning.
"People prey on folks who are having a crisis all the time, and when you're dog is missing, it's a crisis," said Stephanie Weber, who moderates the Facebook group Lost and Found Dogs of Colorado, where people are warning about this scam.
Before the recent two cases, she has never seen a scammer threaten to kill a pet, but other scams are becoming far too common.
"People claim to have found your dog and if you send us the transport costs, we'll get it back to you, and then you never get the dog," said Weber.
Investigators have said these types of con artists are tough to track.
Other scammers claim to be "pet trackers" and convince desperate pet owners to sign contracts.
"Some pet trackers are really, really good. Some maybe not as good. It's hard to know because that's not regulated," said Weber, who said the best way to find a missing pet is to organize a good search. "If someone is wanting money to get your dog back, if it's going to cost money, sure, reimburse them, but make sure they actually have your dog."
Weber said it is possible someone from out of state could find a missing pet, but that is when owners should reach out to rescue groups or friends in that area to see if they can check it out before any money is exchanged. Also, she said, there are many reputable pet transport companies you can use so that you have control of the transport.