Who can resist the innocent charms of man's best friend? Nearly, no one. Such is the adorableness of these four-legged furballs. Importantly, dogs are known for their loyalty and the absence of inherent deceit. However, a US man duped over a hundred victims using the lovable visages of puppies.

Fonjeck Eric Azoh, 42, of Mount Rainier, Maryland, confessed to running a scheme where he received at least $158,000 in money transfers from over 100 victims after promising to sell them pit bull puppies that he had put up for sale on online platforms. He was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 months in prison, after having pleaded guilty to the charge of wire fraud in August 2021.

Not So Noble Intentions

A pit bull puppy (Representational Picture)Max Pixel

According to evidence presented in court, Azoh's duping spree lasted from January 2019 to October 2020. His modus operandi was rather simple. It involved the offering of pit bull puppies for sale on various websites, and not delivering them after receiving payment.

Azoh would put up advertisements for sale puppies on websites. When the unassuming victims from across the US contacted him with the intention of buying the little canines, he would agree to sell them the dogs. In reality, he never intended on fulfilling his end of the transaction.

After striking a deal, Azoh would direct his victims to send the decided amount to him via money transfer businesses, particularly Walmart2Walmart. He also sought additional money for "unanticipated expenses" incurred for the animals. Azoh would later collect the transferred money at retail stores or elsewhere; not to be heard from again.

Price of Deception

Pit bull puppies (Representational Picture)Pxhere

During the course of the scheme, Azoh managed to hoodwink at least 119 victims who lived in 40 different states. In total, he is said to have amassed at least $158,000 from the individuals he had defrauded. However, Azoh's luck eventually ran out.

He was arrested in January 2021 after the US Department of Homeland Security's investigative arm was contacted by representatives of Walmart regarding suspicious financial transactions in the Washington region

the Washington region.. He has remained in custody since then. In addition to his prison term, Azoh has also been ordered to pay $158,000 in restitution. Around $67,000 was seized by law enforcement officials during the investigation. Azoh must not only forfeit this amount but also pay an additional $92,000 forfeiture ordered by the court.