A 27 year-old Cameroonian based in Romania has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a puppy fraud scheme perpetrated against his targets in America.
Desmond Fodje Bobga is accused of taking part in an online fraud scheme that claims to sell puppies to interested individuals across the globe. He is equally charged for wire fraud, forging a seal of the U.S. Supreme Court and aggravated identity theft.
According to the unsealed affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, from around June 2018 to the present, Fodje Bobga knowingly conspired with others to offer puppies and other animals for sale on Internet websites, including lovelyhappypuppy.com. Reports say Fogje and others communicated by text message and email with potential victims to induce pet purchases.
Following each purchase, it is said that Fodje Bobga and the co-conspirators claimed that a transportation company would deliver the puppy or other animal and provided a false tracking number for the pet. Fodje Bobga and his co-conspirators, acting as the transportation company, then claimed the pet transport was delayed and that the victim needed to pay additional money for delivery of the pet.
Information posted on the US Department of Justice Online Platform indicates that, Fodje Bobga and the co-conspirators recently told some victims that they needed to pay even more money for delivery because the pet had been exposed to the coronavirus.
The information on the platform further discloses that the perpetrators used false and fraudulent promises and documents regarding shipping fees and coronavirus exposure to extract successive payments from victims. Among the fake documents was a “refundable crate and vaccine guarantee document”, 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.
Reports say after Fodje Bobga and the co-conspirators received money directly and indirectly through wire communications from the victims, Fodje Bobga and the co-conspirators never delivered the pets.
The affidavit and criminal complaint detail the alleged dealings of Fodje Bobga and his co-conspirators with six victims in Western Pennsylvania and elsewhere who were seeking to purchase a puppy.
The FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge, Michael Christman said that the pandemic has unfortunately created the perfect condition for unscrupulous pet sellers to thrive. “This suspect exploited this website to sell puppies and capitalized on people looking for companion animals online during this difficult time. The FBI has a long arm and an even longer reach and no matter where these scammers are, we will stop at nothing to make sure they don’t get away with victimizing American citizens,” He said.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Scott W. Brady said the dog adoption market can be a breeding ground for catfish schemes. He further explained that Fodje Bogda and his co-conspirators exploited a national pandemic and the social isolation it engendered to exploit victims with photos of cute puppies and to bilk extra costs under the pretence of COVID,
“With the holiday season upon us, and the desire for companionship higher than ever, don’t fall prey to scammers selling pets online: do your research and verify” Scott W. Brady advised.
Fodje Bobga was arrested in Cluj, Romania, on Dec. 3, 2020, pursuant to a provisional arrest request from the United States. The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud charges provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Forging of Seal provides for a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two years in prison in addition to the other sentences. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
By Neville Mesumbe