LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Scammers are posting pictures of animals they claim face imminent death at high-kill shelters to get compassionate victims to give them money, authorities warned.

“Consumers may be contacted on social media, email, phone or U.S. mail seeking donations to rescue an animal,” said Deputy District Attorney Jessie McGrath of the Consumer Protection Division.

“In one common scam, fraudsters post old pictures of animals or that are not in our region or local shelters and indicate they are legitimate charities when they are not,” McGrath said. “The money raised by scammers doesn’t go to the care of the animal, sheltering agencies or to the adopting party or organizations,” she said.

There are three tips to keep from becoming a victim of animal shelter fraud, McGrath said. First, verify that the organization or individual soliciting funds is a legitimate 501(C)3 charitable group. Second, double check to make sure the animal exists, where it is housed and the true extent of its needs. And third, ask the sheltering agency what help has already been provided to the animal and whether it really is at risk of being put to sleep.

Consumers were urged to report fraud to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222.

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