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Op-Ed

Lowest of the low

April 15, 2022

With all the terrible things going on in the world today, I hate to pile another one on you, but because these people are just as slimy as Vladimir Putin, I feel I have to. I’m talking about puppy fraud.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

What sort of demented man — of course it was a man — would dream up puppy fraud?

A Cameroonian. 

I got snared in this seven years ago.

It’s a decadelong scam on people’s hearts: Offering to sell an adorable puppy they ain’t got, for a low-low price.

That’s how they almost got me. 

Now, I am no fan of Google or any other behemoth, but I have to hand it to them for spending $75,000 — they say — to go after one puppy fraudster.

According to paragraph 1 of Google v. Nche Noel Ntse: “Defendant Nche Noel 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. Defendant runs multiple non-delivery websites that deceive and defraud internet users in the United States. Some of these fraudulent websites purport to sell adorable puppies, and victims are tricked into believing the websites are legitimate because of their alluring photos of purebred puppies (see Figure 1), and compelling testimonials from supposedly 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. But Defendant does not actually sell puppies, and instead is running multiple international non-delivery scams with the intent to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting high demand for puppies in the U.S.”

Google is suing because it claims that Ntse used Google’s service to run the scam, damaging the company’s reputation and costing it $75,000 to track the jerk down.

I know for a fact that Cameroon is the center of puppy fraud, because they almost snared me seven years ago, after my beloved Akita, Rufus, died, at 10½ years old. Disconsolate doesn’t begin to describe me. Rufus was the greatest dog. He had a sense of humor.

Image by monicore from Pixabay via Courthouse News)

So I wanted another Akita just like him, went online and found a backyard Akita breeder in Florida — supposedly. I give the guy a call and he tells me he bought an Akita years ago, and thought the Akita was such a great dog he decided to breed them in his backyard. 

That’s how I bought Rufus. From a real, and honest, backyard breeder, who got an Akita and fell in love with the breed, as I did. So I head out from our little village in Vermont to the closest Moneygram office, across the river in New Hampshire. But I’d forgotten something I needed to send the money — either cash instead of a check, or two forms of ID, I forget. When I got home my friend Jane yanked me by the ear and showed me the results of 45 minutes of furious research on the internet.

The same ad I fell for was out there advertising every dog breed you can imagine, from Akita to basset hound to corgi to Weimaraner to zwergspitz — all raised in the same backyard in Miami. Defendant Ntse used the same trick, according to the lawsuit. 

Jane had also figured out that the P.O. Box in Miami was owned by someone in Cameroon — thereby saving me not only a few hundred bucks but saving my heart from breaking again.

Now, I know that horrible things happen every day all over the world, from Moscow to Ukraine to Washington, D.C., and puppy fraud may not rank up there with genocide, land mines or Marjorie Taylor Greene. But, come on, Nche Noel Ntse, et al., is that the best you can do as a human being? Use nonexistent puppies to break people’s hearts while you steal their money?

I called the Cameroon Embassy in Washington, D.C., to ask if they know about, or plan to do anything about, being the worldwide center of puppy fraud, but no one answered any of the seven extensions I dialed. Now, am I suggesting that His Excellency Ambassador Etounde Essomba Henri is in on the scam? Of course not. The guy doesn’t even know how to run his own office.

I am suggesting, though, that every evil, shriveled-heart bastard in the world, from Vladimir Putin on down, be asked the question that Jane asked the crook who tried to rip me off: Does your mother know what you’re doing?

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