erienewsnow | A Cameroonian citizen living in Romania has been arrested and charged in Pittsburgh for running a puppy scam that resulted in multiple victims, including several in western Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
Desmond Fodje Bobga, 27, was arrested in Cluj, Romania on December 3 pursuant to provisional arrest request from the U.S.. He was in Romania on a visa to attend university there.
Fodje Bobga has been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, forging a seal of the U.S. Supreme Court and aggravated identity theft.
According to the FBI, Fodje Bobga knowingly conspired with others to offer puppies and other animals for sale on internet websites like www.lovehappypuppy.com. The websites have since been deleted.
He and others communicated by text message and email with potential victims to induce pet purchases. Once the victim purchased the pet, Fodje Bobga promised delivery via a shipping company and provided false tracking numbers. He then acted as the transportation company, telling victims that the pet transport was delayed and the only way for the delivery to occur is if more money was paid.
Additionally, Fodje Bobga told victims on multiple occasions they needed to pay extra money because the pet they had purchased had been exposed to COVID-19.
Once Fodje Bobga and the coconspirators received money directly through wire communications from the victims, the pets were never delivered.
At least three victims are from Pennsylvania.
The arrest comes during a time when authorities are seeing a large spike in pet scams as criminals exploit the coronavirus pandemic.
“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. “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.”