Google has sued a scammer who used a network of fraudulent websites that claimed to sell basset hound puppies — with alluring photos and fake customer testimonials — in order to take advantage of the elderly during the pandemic.
This scam disproportionately targeted older Americans who can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Google accused Nche Noel of Cameroon of using a network of fake websites, Google Voice phone numbers and Gmail accounts to sell purebred basset hound puppies to people online.
"This type of scheme follows a similar script to many online scams where malicious actors pretend to be someone they are not to convince victims to give them money for something they will never receive," Google said in a blog post late on Monday.
The tech giant also accused the scammer of running a Google Ads campaign to promote the fraudulent websites.
The FTC and FBI report that older people are scammed out of an estimated $650 million per year.
Google said that every single day, it stops more than 100 million harmful emails from reaching users.
"We are taking proactive action to set a legal precedent, protect victims, disrupt the scammer's infrastructure, and raise public awareness," it added.
According to Google Search Trends, searches for "Adopt a Dog" spiked at the start of the pandemic as people spent more time at home. By the end of 2020, 70 per cent of Americans reported owning a pet.20220412-101805