Google Sues Scammer for 'Puppy Fraud' Scheme Targeting the Elderly

Colin Thierry
Colin Thierry Writer
Colin Thierry Colin Thierry Writer

Google sued a scammer on Monday for allegedly running an online “puppy fraud scheme,” defrauding vulnerable people, including the elderly, out of thousands of dollars with false promises of purebred puppies.

The complaint from Monday accused Nche Noel of Cameroon of using a network of fake websites, Google Voice phone numbers, and Gmail accounts to fraudulently pose as a seller of purebred basset hound puppies to people online. In one case, a victim even paid Noel $700 in “electronic gift cards” to buy a puppy that never arrived.

“The actor used a network of fraudulent websites that claimed to sell basset hound puppies — with alluring photos and fake customer testimonials — in order to take advantage of people during the pandemic,” Google’s senior counsel Mike Trinh wrote in a blog post on Monday. “Sadly, this scam disproportionately targeted older Americans, who can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks.”

Along with using Google’s services to communicate with victims, Google accused Noel of running a Google Ads campaign to promote his fraudulent websites.

In the complaint, Google said that the AARP, an elderly issues group, alerted the company about the scam in September. In November, the AARP later published a report detailing these puppy fraud scams, writing that criminals were exploiting isolated consumers who were looking for companionship during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online scams increased significantly during the pandemic since more people spent more time on the internet. In April 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that it had issued over 100 alerts and called for more than 350 companies to remove deceptive claims from the internet.

Google’s lawsuit also claimed that Noel violated the company’s terms of service by conducting the alleged scam. Google is seeking statutory relief for damages.

About the Author

About the Author

Colin Thierry is a former cybersecurity researcher and journalist for SafetyDetectives who has written a wide variety of content for the web over the past 2 years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, watching sports, and playing video games.

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