Google is suing a person it says ran a puppy-breeder website scam that ripped off hopeful pet owners

Google is suing a person it says ran a puppy-breeder website scam that ripped off hopeful pet owners
Google accused Nche Noel Ntse of scamming internet users with websites featuring "adorable puppies."Getty Images
  • Google is suing a person named Nche Noel Ntse alleging they run fraudulent websites.
  • In its lawsuit, the tech giant said the websites scammed people looking to buy basset hounds.

Google has sicced its lawyers on a person the company says used its suite of tools to perpetuate an online puppy scam, a form of fraud that has popped up more and more during the pandemic.

The tech giant filed a lawsuit Monday against a website owner named Nche Noel Ntse, claiming that the defendant established multiple sites intended "defraud internet users" by enticing them with "alluring photos of purebred puppies." Google's lawyers filed the case in US District Court in San Jose, California.

Seamus Hughes, the deputy director at George Washington University's Program on Extremism, broke the news on Twitter, noting that the suit was filed around 3 a.m. in California.

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Purchasing pet puppies online has become a fraught task during the pandemic. Online puppy scams have proliferated as the COVID-19 pandemic sending demand for pets spiking. In 2020, the Better Business Bureau reported that online pet scams tripled year over year. At the end of 2021, the consumer advocacy group warned that online puppy sales remained "extremely risky" for prospective pet parents.

Google's suit against Ntse appears to be an attempt to push back against this form of fraud. In their filing, the company's lawyers from the firm Cooley LLP wrote that 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." Ntse stands accused of setting up websites chock full of photographs of "adorable puppies" 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," Google's lawyers wrote.

Google's legal team alleged that the defendant not only "does not actually sell puppies," but that the websites amount to an "international non-delivery scam" that involves lulling "victims into a false sense of trust after they have invested significant time and energy communicating with people they think they have come to know." According to Google, Ntse seeks to "exploit the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting high demand for puppies" in the US.

Google's attorneys wrote in their filing that the "online puppy scam is particularly nefarious because it not only relies on one-on-one communications, but also exploits the joy of pet adoption, resulting in both emotional harm and financial loss."

The filing included images of basset hound puppies featured on Ntse's website, including one dubbed "Hatie" who was described as a 10-week-old American Kennel Club-registered female with "up-to-date" vaccinations going for $700. Another screenshot showed an "about us" web page for Jerry's Basset Hound Home welcoming "all dog lovers into our world of basset hounds."

Google also broke down Ntse's use of various "fraudulent Google accounts" which were used to register websites and "communicate false promises to victims." As an exhibit, the tech company included a copy of its terms of service, which it said that Ntse violated. Google has asked the court to set up "a permanent injunction enjoining and restraining" Ntse from continuing to operate the fraudulent websites, as well as establishing any Google accounts. The company is also asking for unspecified damages, and a jury trial.