Earlier this week, Google filed its first consumer protection lawsuit against a man who defrauded hopeful puppy buyers.
The target of the lawsuit, Nche Noel Ntse, used Google's suite of tools—Gmail, Google Voice, and Google Ads—to lure wannabe pet parents into purchasing adorable, albeit nonexistent, purebred puppies.
Ntse grabbed the attention of his victims with endearing puppy photos and fake reviews from made-up buyers, robbing them of more than $1 million in total. Despite paying Ntse hundreds of dollars, the victims never received the puppies.
The tech giant is suing Ntse for financial damages, suggesting that his actions tarnished Google's reputation and relationship with its users. Although Google is not pursuing criminal charges against Ntse, Google lawyer Michael Trinh says he hopes this sets a precedent and deters future frauds.
The suit highlights a larger issue within the pet community as scammers have exploded in recent years. During the pandemic, these schemes were particularly popular, as people in lockdown were lonelier and more vulnerable.
If you or someone you know is a victim of such a scam, report it to the AARP, which is how Ntse's case was brought to Google's attention in the first place.