PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Bored in the house, lonely and longing for holiday cheer are the three ingredients leading many Pittsburgh families to want a puppy.
But state and federal law enforcement say scammers targeted local families, stealing thousands of dollars right before the holiday.READ MORE: Some Pittsburgh-Area Businesses Will Still Require Masks Following CDC's New Guidance
Investigators located one suspect living in Romania and he’s accused of scamming Pittsburgh families out of more than $11,000.
Puppy scams are nothing new, but now scammers are using COVID as a way to get you to pay up.
“In this case, we provided shipping documents and tracking numbers and even the name of a shipping company that was sending the dogs across the United States.”
But there were no dogs. U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said it’s just a scheme to target Pittsburghers using COVID as an emotional weapon.
“And so when they went back and asked for — especially during COVID — additional money, additional resources because there was a problem with the shipping that was COVID related, people felt like this was already a secure transaction,” said Brady.READ MORE: 'A Miracle': Ohio Mayor Saves Skydiving Partner’s Life After Malfunction
The FBI says 27-year-old Desmond Fodje Bobga never intended to send puppies from Romania to Pittsburgh, and they definitely didn’t need extra care for COVID symptoms.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed federal charges against Bobga, and our news story grabbed the attention of a Ruffs Dale woman.
Kim Sethman found an adorable Cane Corso puppy on a separate website not related to the U.S. Attorney’s case.
She’s out hundreds of dollars after refusing to pay “pop up” expenses.
“He needed more money to rent a carrier so the dog would be comfortable for the ride and for gas to get there because he claimed he spent the money,” said Sethman.MORE NEWS: Teen Dies Nearly 2 Years After He Was Shot At Fourth Of July Celebration In Pittsburgh
She’s already talked to state police and is now headed to file a criminal report with them after another long day at her nursing job.