Google will sue a fake dog seller, who used the platform to scam Americans in need of company during confinement, reports Vanity Fair. The scammer used fake Google Voice and Gmail accounts to contact his victims and trick them into buying pets, sharing pictures of puppies or pedigree dogs. It also generated fake reviews from satisfied users, the better to fool its prey.
He is accused by Google of “perpetrating a puppy fraud scheme to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic for personal gain, while taking advantage of unsuspecting and vulnerable victims”. One of the victims notably paid 700 dollars (647 euros) in digital gift cards to recover a small puppy of the basset hound breed, then had to pay an additional 1,500 dollars (1,387 euros) for “delivery costs”. Obviously the dog never arrived at its destination…
Four red flags
Google is seeking damages from the scammer, based in Cameroon. The American company had been alerted by AARP, an advocacy group for the elderly, in September 2021. For the organization, four signals can alert to a scam: communication by email, without a call; photos or ad text found on other sites; a dubious payment method (paying with gift cards, or an unfamiliar payment app); and, finally, a price too good to be true.