YAOUNDE, Cameroon

A US court has charged a Cameroonian man over his alleged involvement in a puppy fraud scheme against US consumers, according to a statement.

The federal court in Pittsburgh charged Desmond Fodje Bobga, 27, who is in Romania on a visa to attend a university there. He has been arrested.

Bobga exploited a website to sell puppies and capitalized on people looking for companion animals online, as many are avoiding social contact due to the coronavirus pandemic, said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic has created the perfect condition for unscrupulous pet sellers to thrive,” Christman said.

“The Department of Justice is committed to deterring and disrupting schemes, especially transnational ones, that take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic for financial gain by victimizing consumers,” said Jeffery Bossert Clark, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Division.

“We are grateful to our partners at the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the FBI for working hard to shut down this fraud scheme and to punish criminals who seek to exploit American’s fondness for animals,” he added.

The statement said Bobga was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, forging a seal of the US Supreme Court, and aggravated identity theft.

The FBI urged vigilance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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