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Scammer on prowl

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012
missing deer
PET SCAM: When a young pet fallow deer went missing her owners were targeted by a pet scammer.

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If a pet deer going missing after a dog attack wasn't bad enough, Sally Kerse has now been targeted by a scammer after notifying her loss on an internet pet website.

Ruby the fallow deer went missing after escaping her Dairy Flat paddock while trying to avoid an attack by two dogs.

Two lambs and a kune kune pig in the same paddock were unharmed.

One dog was caught.

But one of two fallow deer leapt the fence with the other dog, a fox terrier, in pursuit. They both disappeared.

After a couple of days the terrier returned, but 10-month-old Ruby hasn't been seen since.

She was hand-raised from a day-old fawn by the family, including daughter Hannah who has multiple sclerosis and is wheelchair-bound.

So Sally is anxious to find Ruby.

After putting her in the Pets on the Net lost pet section, they were thrilled to get an email from ‘Mary' who said she might have found Ruby.

‘Mary' said she had just moved house and had found a deer in the back of the removal truck when they arrived in Invercargill from Silverdale.

That seemed odd to Sally but she was happy to organise transport for Ruby to come home.

‘Mary' told her it would cost $300.

After several attempts to get more information Sally became suspicious.

Mary's cellphone number didn't work, and she couldn't be reached except by email as she said she was bedridden after surgery.

English and grammar in her emails were poor and her story changed to include that as she was recovering from surgery she had flown to Invercargill to meet the removal truck.

When Sally arranged for the son of a neighbour to pick up the animal in Invercargill, ‘Mary' wouldn't give her the address and insisted they'd agreed on paid transport.

It then became clear Sally was the target of a pet scam.

The Pets on the Net website includes a police warning about scammers targeting owners of lost animals and animals for sale, and gives advice on how to recognise them. The website has a rundown of scammer examples they've come across and asks for people to advise them if they are targeted.

Signs included asking for animal transport payment, poor English and grammar, foreign email addresses and a missionary or charity type ‘sob story' angle, as well as suggesting Western Union or other irreversible money payment.

Police say owners of lost pets should always see the found animal face to face and not hand over money prior.

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Sally wonders how many people have been taken in by the scammers and lost money.

Meanwhile, she is still looking for her beloved Ruby and is distributing flyers through schools and rural areas.

- Rodney Times

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