A man in Romania has been charged by the U.S. Justice Department with allegedly running a puppy scam that bilked thousands of dollars from Pennsylvania residents who thought they were buying pets online, authorities said.
Desmond Fodje Bobga, 27, was charged in federal court with wire fraud, forging a seal of the U.S. Supreme Court and aggravated identity theft, according to the department.
Bobga, a Cameroon resident, allegedly ran the fraud with others for the past two years, authorities said.
At least six alleged victims lost money, federal officials said, including a New Brighton woman who said she paid $9,100 for a puppy and was later told she needed to purchase insurance for the pup and that it was being quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19.
“The dog adoption market can be a breeding ground for catfish schemes. 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 pretense of COVID,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady in a statement this week.
"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,” he said.
Bobga was arrested Dec. 3 in Cluj, Romania, at the request of federal authorities in the U.S. and is awaiting extradition, the statement said.