Google has filed a lawsuit against a Cameroonian named Nche Noel Ntse for allegedly using its services to entice thousands of potential pet owners to pay for basset hounds that aren’t even real.
On Monday, the mighty search engine filed a Lawsuit against Nche Noel Ntse, accusing him of violating its terms of service when he used its platforms to participate in a massive “puppy fraud” conspiracy.
The scheme, which mainly targeted elderly people with an inflated promise of cute fluffy eared pets, was alleged to have employed a range of tricks on the internet, including fake dog sales websites that include fake testimonials and “alluring photos” of the (fake) dogs. He was alleged to have tricked his victims by having one-on-one conversations to get them to give the money to buy puppies that would never arrive.
The scheme was “dozens of fraudulent Google accounts” created using “Gmail and Google Voice… to communicate false promises to victims, register the fraudulent websites with U.S. internet hosting companies, and request and receive payments,” Google states in the suit. The suit didn’t include the Nurse’s contact information, and Gizmodo’s attempts to contact Ntse’s representatives for comments were unsuccessful.
In a blog article published on Monday, Google’s Senior Counsel Mike Trinh and CyberCrime Investigation Group manager, Albert Shin, revealed more details of the lawsuit, which aims to fight fake dogs and the people who market them.
“Sadly, this scam disproportionately targeted older Americans, who can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The FTC and FBI report that older people are scammed out of an estimated $650 million per year, the duo wrote in the blog post. “That’s why we’re taking proactive action to set a legal precedent, protect victims, disrupt the scammer’s infrastructure, and raise public awareness. Of course, legal action is just one way we work to combat these types of scams.”
Google’s lawsuit against Ntse seems to attempt to fight back against this kind of fraud. In the filing, the lawyers of the company of the law firm Cooley LLP wrote that Ntse “has been perpetrating a puppy fraud scheme to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic for personal gain, while taking advantage of unsuspecting and vulnerable victims. “
Ntse is accused of creating websites that are full of photos that include “adorable puppies” and “compelling testimonials ” from apparently satisfied customers. “
“These photos aim to bait would-be victims into believing the puppies are real and that they are interacting with actual dog breeders,” Google’s lawyers have written.
Google’s legal department claimed that the defendant not just “does not sell puppies.” Still, the websites define an “international non-delivery scam” that involves inducing “victims into the illusion of trust after having spent significant time and effort in talking to people they know. “
As per Google, Ntse seeks to “exploit the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting high demand for puppies” in the U.S.
Google’s lawyers wrote in their report in their filing that “online puppy fraud is especially dangerous because it doesn’t just rely on one-on-one communication and also takes advantage of the excitement of adopting a pet which can cause financial and emotional damage. “
The file contained images that showed basset-hound pups featured on the Ntse website, with one of them being dubbed “Hattie,” who was described as a 10-week-old American Kennel Club member who had “up-to-date” vaccinations going for $700. Another image was of the “about us” web page for Jerry’s Basset Hound Home, welcoming “all dog lovers into our world of basset hounds.”
Google also exposed the use by Ntse of various “fraudulent Google accounts,” which were used to sign up websites and “communicate false claims to victims. “
In its exhibit to the court, the tech firm provided the conditions of service that it claimed Ntse violated. Google has requested the court grant “a permanent injunction enjoining and restraining” Ntse from operating the fraudulent websites and establishing all Google accounts.
This company seeks unspecified damages and a trial before a jury.