A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jun 9, 2017

FRAUD ALERT issued by LA County District Attorney re animal rescues

Courtesy LA County DA
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office issued a FRAUD ALERT warning people of predators trying to scam well-meaning consumers of funds to the detriment of animals in real need and legitimate charities who need those funds to help animal victims. These predators and fake rescues exploit benevolent citizens by stealing funds, lying about a need and, in some cases pretending to be a legitimate charity. We saw an example recently when a KCBS investigative report exposed a rescue who advertised as but was not a legally compliant charity.

The District Attorney's FRAUD ALERT says in part: (Click on the words FRAUD ALERT above for the entire alert and video.)

"The image of a sad puppy in a cage at a shelter will inspire many animal lovers to donate money to rescue organizations but scammers may be preying on their compassion.
In the animal shelter scam, crooks will post pictures of the animals with false information about “high kill” shelters and imminent death unless they immediately receive money to rescue the pets.
Consumers may be contacted on social media, email, phone or U.S. mail seeking donations to rescue an animal.  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. 
The money raised by scammers doesn’t go to the care of the animal, sheltering agencies or to the adopting party or organization." 

It is always a wise idea to check before you donate as even legitimate charities can mislead or not actually provide the services that you want to fund. Or, as you know, many donate to the New York aspca thinking that they are an umbrella organization that is connected to your local spca which is not at all the case. Finally, in the internet world in which we live, impulse donations to a Facebook post might create at least 3 victims - a pet who truly needs help, a shelter whose survival depends on donations, and YOU. 


  1. I wonder if they are investigating that one person named Mary Cummins.That is a wildlife rehabilitation fake, animal abuse and County of Los Angeles and City of Los Angeles animal control officer or a wildlife officer impersonator. Cummin has a long history dating back to mid- late 1970's or further doing stuff like this. I'm guessing this was put out because of her.

    I would advise all animal and wild personal not to deal with any private animal or wildlife rescues that support Mary Cummins or allows her to work/volunteer with their organizations. So not deal with organizations that praise/speaks highly of Cummins or gives/shares with Cummings their government grant or donated money. There are 3 organizations in Souther California that are Mary Cumming loves and supports and they are under IRS, Californa Fish, and Game, their local and state animal​ control and other law enforcement investigations and they are looking at losing thier Non-profit status and being shut doewn for their dealings with Mary Cummins.

    For more information Please, Google Mary Cummins Exposed or just Mary Cummins Animal Abuser.

  2. I get emails from a few organizations saying they have rescued animals but need money for surgeries. How do you verify that these are legitimate rescues?

  3. Check them out on the Attorney General and IRS websites, call them and see if you like their answers, offer to send funds directly to vet and be extra careful about donating to a group you don't know or can't see. Often these internet requests are not real and there is no animal.

    1. That is great information! Thanks!