A man says people in a 'fake RSPCA van' tried to take his dog.
Andrew Hubball, from Heanor in Derbyshire, says he was walking his pet, Jess, in the town when he was met by a man claiming to be from the animal charity.
Mr Hubball says the man claimed to bee investigating dog thefts in the area and asked him to put Jess in the back of a van with the RSPCA logo on it, while he checked Andrew was Jess' owner.
However, Andrew refused after seeing the driver was still in the van with the engine running. When he asked for proof that they worked for the RSPCA, he says they suddenly drove away.
The 52-year-old says the incident, which took place in Hands Road, on Friday, February 12, has made him worry that people who are more trusting could end up having their dogs stolen.
"People need to be aware," he said.
If a kid had been walking the dog or an elderly person, they might've put them in the back of the van.
Andrew says he had an inkling something wasn't right as soon as he saw the men.
"Something just didn't seem right - why was the engine running and why had the driver stayed in? A normal animal vehicle has air vents, but there weren't any.
"I asked him for identification and he jumped straight in the van and they drove straight off."
A spokesperson for the RSPCA says at the time it had heard anecdotally there had been a rise in the number of pet thefts during the past year "due to the value of many breeds and the demand for pets during lockdown".
In a statement on its website, the RSPCA said it was "extremely worrying" it had received reports of people posing as fake RSPCA inspectors and impersonating its staff.
It said: "We want to ensure that the public, their animals and our own staff are safe, and that our officers can continue to carry out their vital work without being compromised by bogus officials.
"We've been made aware of a number of incidents in different areas of the country in which people have been targeted in their own homes or while out walking their dogs.
"In some cases, police have been made aware of the circumstances and we've also been informed."
It added that genuine RSPCA officers will very rarely approach someone in public, only doing so if they have witnessed animal cruelty there and then, or if they see an animal in immediate danger.
Our officers will be wearing RSPCA branded clothing which may include a white branded shirt, navy blue branded fleece or coat, and will always be carrying RSPCA identification.
"Most of our officers drive white vans that are either wrapped in branding or have small navy RSPCA logos on the side and rear of the vehicle (although some officers can remove these signs for operational reasons or for their own safety)."
Anyone who is concerned someone may have posed as an RSPCA officer or another agency worker is asked to report it to the police on 101.