Patricia Howell was told to pay $600 in bitcoin or Happy the basset hound would be sold or killed. The pet owner said that she knew it must be a scam because she already had her dog back.
When Happy went missing, Howell posted details of the lost pet on Facebook and a service called Pawboost. It is believed that the criminal found her details on social media, and tried to take advantage of the pseudonymity that bitcoin affords consumers.
The caller said that they were using a burner phone that could not be traced by the police. The matter has been reported to Granville County Sheriff’s Office, who said that this was the first time they had dealt with such a case, but that they had heard of similar instances in other areas of the country.
Howell said that the criminals “need to find a better way to make money”.
Bitcoin has developed a reputation for being used in scams and blackmail attempts, both because transactions are not reversible and many people mistakenly believe that they are always untraceable…