A Scarborough family claims to have been scammed after a man pretended to have their missing dog in order to receive a reward.

Steve Smith said his wife, Danielle, was walking their three-year-old Golden Doodle, Charlie, on Sunday afternoon at Greenwood Conservation Area in Ajax when he ran off. After an initial search, the family put up posters near the area where the dog went missing.  

On Monday, Danielle said she received an anonymous phone call from a man who said he was from Pickering. He claimed that his sister found the dog and gave it to him. The man demanded to meet at a Tim Hortons in Pickering later that night. 

“He seemed pretty jumpy,” said Steve Smith about the man. “He was quick to push her (Danielle) to the location.”

While on the phone, Danielle said she questioned the anonymous man about the potential of the situation being a scam but decided to meet anyway.

“I was 90 per cent sure he was trying to scam me,” she said.

The man also inquired about a reward, prompting Danielle to tell him that he could have whatever he wanted. He asked for a $100 prepaid VISA gift card and she agreed.

Before she left to meet the man, Danielle decided to bring a friend for reinforcement. Shortly after the pair arrived, the man called once more. She said that he demanded for her to purchase the VISA card before the two met. She could only find a $75 VISA card but the man said that was fine.

Danielle said the man called once more and tried to pressure her into reading the numbers off the back of the VISA. When she refused, the man told her that she wasn’t going to get her dog back until she read him the numbers. She reluctantly complied.

After the man hung up the phone, Danielle never heard from him again.

She would later learn that the man used the VISA to make an online purchase through a Wal-Mart store in Mississauga. She filed a police report later that night with Durham Regional Police.

“It has been reported and we are investigating,” said a Dave Selby, a Durham Regional Police spokesperson. 

Selby also said it’s possible that the suspect has scammed other people.

Meanwhile, the search for the missing dog continues.

“So many people are out there looking for him,” Danielle said. “The wealth of support is amazing.”

As of Thursday afternoon, a rescue team was searching at Petticoat Creek in Pickering, Ont.

If anyone has any information on Charlie’s whereabouts, they can contact a search team helping out the family at 905-666-4676.