‘It’s disgusting’: Woman busted in animal welfare photo scam

UPDATE: The head of another Tasmanian animal rescue organisation says their photos have also been used by the same woman who allegedly posted dozens of photos of Brightside Sanctuary's rescued animals and claimed them as hers to elicit cash donations.

Tasmanian Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education Services chief executive officer Natalie Rivers told the Mercury she was alerted to the posts on Sunday.

"She's put pictures of several of our animals up, including some that were in for intensive treatment and were very ill, claiming she needed money for vet bills," Ms Rivers said.

"It's disgusting - genuine carers and rescuers work so hard to support the animals in our care, usually using our own money out of our own pockets.

"We rely on other people's donations and unfortunately when things like this happen, it can make people wary against donating.

"And it's not just about the money - it's the time and effort and heartache that goes into rescuing animals and then other people taking credit."

 

Tasmanian Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education Services' photos reposted by another woman to allegedly elicit cash donations.
Tasmanian Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education Services' photos reposted by another woman to allegedly elicit cash donations.

 

Tasmanian Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education Services' photos reposted by another woman to allegedly elicit cash donations.
Tasmanian Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education Services' photos reposted by another woman to allegedly elicit cash donations.

 

 

EARLIER: THE founder of Brightside Farm Sanctuary will report a woman to the federal cyber crime unit after she allegedly posted dozens of photos of Brightside's rescued animals and claimed them as hers to elicit cash donations.

Emma Haswell said she had about 50 screenshots of Facebook posts where the woman has taken photos of Brightside animals and claimed she rescued them and needed money for their care.

"The first one was Tipsy, which is a bizarre choice because she would be one of the best known dogs in Tasmania," Ms Haswell said.

"She changed her name to Lady Grace, but used my descriptions of taking her to the vet.

"There's even photos she's posted of Tipsy on my bed, claiming she's with her. It's very creepy."

Ms Haswell said the woman appeared to have trawled through the Cygnet animal sanctuary's Facebook posts back to six years ago.

"I remember I got a whole lot of dogs from a puppy farm and there's a picture of them all in crates on the back of a ute and she's taken that image and said they're dogs she's picked up from a local vet clinic that were going to be euthanised because of coronavirus," she said.

Emma Haswell from Brightside Farm Sanctuary with rescue greyhounds Benji, 5, Sweetie, 10, Paddi, 9 and Denny, 3. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Emma Haswell from Brightside Farm Sanctuary with rescue greyhounds Benji, 5, Sweetie, 10, Paddi, 9 and Denny, 3. Picture: Zak Simmonds

"It's an absolute joke because people haven't been surrendering dogs because of coronavirus - they've all been adopted and fostered in Tasmania. I've had hundreds of people want dogs, but there aren't any available."

Ms Haswell said she had not had any direct contact with the woman, but she was aware of at least one person who had donated hundreds of dollars to her.

She said she suspected the woman was using photos from other wildlife sanctuaries from across the country.

"There's posts where she's got supposed rescued fruit bats and bit tubs of chopped up fruit, but we don't have fruit bats in Tasmania so it's obvious she's stolen those images from another shelter," she said.

Other Facebook photos of animals the woman has allegedly used to defraud social media users out of money.
Other Facebook photos of animals the woman has allegedly used to defraud social media users out of money.

Ms Haswell said she had reported the matter to police and had been told to put in a complaint through the Federal Government's cyber fraud website.

"She's a real person living in Northern Tasmania - I've got her address for the police," she said.

"I've had a number of her friends contact me from when they knew her in Karratha [Western Australia].

"The thing that really gets to me - I rescue a lot of seriously ill animals like Tipsy and I look at her and she was almost dead when I got her - the thought that someone can look at images of a dog in that condition and think 'wow, I can make some money out of that' just blows me away."

The Mercury has attempted to contact the woman for comment.

MORE NEWS:

Originally published as 'It's disgusting': Woman busted in animal welfare photo scam