CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Animal lovers are being targeted on social platforms like Facebook for fake lost dog photos. The same goes for missing people too. Scammers are using tactics to trick a user to click on the post of a dog or person that appears to be in the need of help.

A report from Better Business Bureau (BBB) says it is very tempting to want to reshare a post on Facebook if it means helping someone. However, if the post is clicked on, this will immediately redirect a user to another website that isn’t legit and is looking for monetary donations.

It’s important to never reshare a post on Facebook as this can let the scammer change the content of the post to an advertisement. For instance, a scammer can change the original post to something more deceptive like a rental ad or a survey that includes a cash prize. BBB recommends avoiding the urgency to share with your Facebook friends too soon and looking into the user that has created the post first.

There have been many instances of a fake missing person or dog posts in local buy-and-sell groups. BBB states that this is a targeted spot for scammers since there already is a sense of community and trust within these crowds. If spotting one of these posts, go to the comment section to see if comments were turned off by the creator of the post. If these are turned off, this may be one indication of it being a scam, since the user may want to avoid being called out.

According to BBB, these are ways to avoid being scammed by a bait-and-switch Facebook ad:

  • Do a bit of digging before resharing a post on your profile. Read the information carefully and look at the profile of the person who created and shared the original post. If the profile is from Florida but shared the post in a Canadian group, it may be a red flag of a bait-and-switch publication.
  • Find out when the poster created the Facebook profile. Scammers always create profiles when their old one gets banned. If you click on their profile, it will tell you how long they have been a member of the group. You can also find additional information on their public profile.
  • You should see it in the news. If a child goes missing or a tragedy occurs, you’ll most likely see it on different news outlets or shared by law enforcement, not on a random post. 
  • Do a reverse image search on Google. That will allow you to find out if the pictures you saw were used on other ads or websites in different cities. 
  • Find similar posts. Copy and paste the text from the post into Facebook’s search tool to see if other posts with the same text and different pictures show up.
  • If you suspect a post is a scam, report it to Facebook.