Google files lawsuit against "puppy scammer" for using its services to sell non-existent dogs
Google to the rescue... for onceBy Cohen Coberly
Editor's take: If you're reading TechSpot, there's a good chance you know a thing or two about internet scams -- many are obvious to us tech enthusiasts. Sadly, many older internet users aren't quite as tech-savvy, and fall victim to online scams at a much higher rate: especially when those scams use a victim's emotions against them, as is the case in a recent string of puppy-selling scams found by Google.
According to a new blog post published by Google's safety & security team, aptly titled "Hounding scammers with litigation," the company seeks to address instances of puppy fraud using the legal system. According to Google, there's been an uptick in online scams over the past few years (likely thanks to the ongoing pandemic), some of which cannot be tackled just by raising awareness.
In more extreme cases, Google says lawsuits are an "effective tool" for establishing legal precedent and raising the stakes for anyone caught scamming innocent victims.
The company has already filed one lawsuit against the owners of a Russian botnet, and now it's doing the same to an individual that's been using Google products to sell non-existent basset hound puppies to unsuspecting "customers."
The websites allegedly include fake photos and customer testimonials, which can seem convincing to an ordinary user.
Once a victim is on the hook, the scammer behind the site will try to convince them to shell out hundreds of dollars in gift cards for deposits, delivery costs, and more. Naturally, the victim never actually receives their dog, and the scammers get to walk away scot-free.
If you think nobody would ever fall for this sort of thing, think again. My own mother -- an intelligent and otherwise tech-savvy woman with multiple Master's degrees -- was a victim of an almost identical scam a couple months ago. She was looking for a miniature dachshund breeder to purchase a pup from and eventually found a seller on Facebook.
Long story short, she lost a $500 deposit and never heard from the so-called breeder again. Apparently, though, she was one of the lucky ones! According to Google, others have been ripped off for thousands of dollars.
To be frank, Google will likely never be able to directly punish the actual scammer behind the fraudulent Google accounts it's suing over. The person goes by "Nche Noel Ntse" and is located far outside of US jurisdiction in Cameroon. Nonetheless, Google hopes the impact of the suit will give it a greater ability to stop similar fraud in the future.