One Charged in Puppy Scam
The United States Department of Justice has brought charges against the alleged operator of a puppy scam website that defrauded American consumers.
A criminal complaint was unsealed on December 4 in federal court in Pittsburgh charging Desmond Fodje Bobga with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, forging a seal of the US Supreme Court, and aggravated identity theft.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, 27-year-old Cameroon native Bobga and his co-conspirators offered puppies and other animals for sale online. Victims were contacted by email and text message and conned into handing over money for pets that never arrived.
Bobga and his co-conspirators allegedly told victims that their new pets would be delivered by a transportation company and provided them with fake tracking numbers.
The scammers then posed as the transportation company, telling victims that their delivery had been delayed and that they would need to pay extra money to ensure the safe arrival of their pet.
Some victims were instructed to hand over additional money because their pet had supposedly been exposed to the coronavirus.
"The perpetrators used false and fraudulent promises and documents regarding shipping fees and coronavirus exposure to extract successive payments from victims," said the Department of Justice.
Among the fake documents were a "refundable crate and vaccine guarantee document" that purported to have been issued by the “Supreme Court of the United States of America” and bore the seal of the court, along with the signature of a Clerk of the Court.
One victim, who resides in Cheswick, Pennsylvania, paid $1,500 for a Chihuahua named Bentley that never arrived.
A couple from Dallas, Texas, seeking to purchase a puppy named Snow White were conned out of $1,800 while another victim in Fruitland, Iowa, was tricked into handing over $1,840 for a miniature dachshund that was not delivered.
Another victim, located in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, lost a total of $9,100 while attempting to purchase a mini-dachshund for her mother.
Bobga was arrested in Cluj, Romania, on December 3. If found guilty of all charges, he faces a maximum prison term of 27 years.