Cameroonian citizen extradited from Romania to face COVID-19 fraud charges | Takeover bid
A Cameroonian citizen was extradited to the United States yesterday to face federal charges for his alleged involvement in a fraud scheme perpetrated against American consumers.
Desmond Fodje Bobga, 28, made his first appearance in Federal District Court in Pittsburgh, Pa., Today. He was extradited from Romania. Bobga is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, forging a US Supreme Court seal and aggravated identity theft.
According to the charges, between approximately June 2018 and approximately June 2020, Bobga knowingly conspired with others to offer puppies and other animals for sale on websites. He and others have texted and emailed potential victims to induce purchases. After each purchase, Bobga and the co-conspirators claimed that a shipping company would deliver the puppy or other animal and provided a fake tracking number for the animal. Bobga and his co-conspirators, acting as the transport company, then claimed that the transport of the animal was delayed and that the victim had to pay additional sums for the delivery of the animal.
Bobga and the co-conspirators told some victims they had to pay more money for delivery because the animal had been exposed to the coronavirus. The authors used false promises and documents regarding shipping costs and exposure to the coronavirus to extract successive payments from victims. Among the forged documents were a “Refundable Cash and Vaccine Guarantee Document” which was allegedly issued by the “Supreme Court of the United States of America” and bore the seal of the Court, as well as the signature of a registrar. of the Court. . After Bobga and the co-conspirators received money directly and indirectly through wire communications from the victims, they never delivered the pets.
“The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting fraud schemes that benefit American consumers, including schemes that seek to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton said of the Civil Division of the Ministry of Justice. “We are grateful to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the FBI for their partnership on this matter, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of the Romanian law enforcement.”
“From around the world, Desmond Fodje Bobga and his co-conspirators have ruthlessly exploited consumers seeking the companionship of a pet to alleviate the isolation and stress caused by the COVID pandemic,” the prosecutor said. Acting American Stephen R. Kaufman for the Western District. from Pennsylvania. “Today he is appearing in Pittsburgh court to face justice.”
“Mr. Bobga set up fake websites to advertise puppies or other animals, contacted customers in the United States, got payment and then didn’t provide anything in return,” said Carlton Peeples, Special Agent Acting FBI Pittsburgh. “His extradition to western Pennsylvania to face these charges sends a message to those seeking to exploit victims in the United States that the FBI will stop at nothing to find you and put a end to these scams. “
The criminal charges detail Bobga and his co-conspirators’ alleged relationships with victims in western Pennsylvania and elsewhere. For example:
- One victim, from New Brighton, Pa., Was looking to buy a mini dachshund for her mother in mid-March 2020. Victim 1 was made to lose $ 9,100 due to false claims that the puppy was shipped, had needed insurance and was exposed to COVID-19;
- Another victim, from Fruitland, Iowa, was looking to buy a mini-dachshund for herself in mid-March 2020. False allegations caused Victim 2 to lose $ 1,840; and
- A couple in Dallas, Texas, who were looking to buy a dog and lost $ 1,800, were prompted to make successive payments based on claims about transportation issues and other matters.
The criminal charges include a reference to a website, lovelyhappypuppy.com, to which Bobga allegedly directed numerous victims to see puppies he claimed to be fraudulently selling:
The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Tampering with the seal carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence. Sentences are passed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The lawsuit is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ira M. Karoll of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Wei Xiang of the Consumer Protection Division of the Civil Division.
The FBI field office in Pittsburgh has investigated leading to the charges in this case. The Office of International Affairs of the Ministry of Justice provided substantial assistance. The Romanian law enforcement agencies, in particular the Romanian National Police, the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and the Cluj Brigade for Combating Organized Crime, have provided significant cooperation.
If you believe you are a victim in this case and would like to opt-out of receiving notifications or have any questions about your rights, please contact the Victims and Witnesses Coordinator at 412-894-7400 or through our website (https: / /www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa/webform/contact-victim-witness-coordinator).
For more information about the Consumer Protection Division, visit its website at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.
An indictment is only an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.