Con artists scammed a cat lover out of hundreds of pounds by claiming they had found her pet.

Lisa Fernandes was called by a man claiming to be from the RSPCA to say her four-year-old tabby Hazel, missing for three days, had been found.

The caller claimed she needed to pay a vet for looking after the cat but Ms Fernandes’s relief turned to anger when she got to the pet care centre to find Hazel was still missing and fraudsters had tried to spend £900 on her card.

Ms Fernandes, 37, of Canterbury, said the caller told her they needed to pay a £5 ‘discharge fee’.

‘We got the cats from a charity and had to pay a fee to get them, so I didn’t think it was odd at all,’ she added.

‘Now I look back on it, the guy was babbling. There were so many red flags.’

The caller was able to quote the first eight digits of Hazel’s microchip number, which Ms Fernandes had entered on an online lost cat register.

Happily, Hazel was found on Friday and is now back home.

‘I was just so blinkered. I wanted to find her,’ Ms Fernandes said.

The RSPCA, which does not ask for money for care over the phone, said fraudsters are scouring websites to find missing pet posters.

‘It’s disgraceful these scammers are preying on already distressed pet owners,’ it added.

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