Three African nationals from Cameroon are facing charges in an organized, intra-national internet fraud scheme uncovered in western Pennsylvania.
According to police, large amounts of money were wired through Western Union and MoneyGram at various locations in Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.
Authorities say among the allegedly crimes, the men were selling boxer puppies online out of a student housing complex in Slippery Rock.
Police say the total is at least $20,000, but it is expected to grow.
“We have at least 10 victims, and we’re expecting a lot more,” said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper James Long.
Lawrence Njabon Francis, 37, and Lawrence Nana Tchakounte, 26, attend Slippery Rock University on student visas. Both have been arrested and bond has been set at $100,000.
A third man, Emmenuel Nkwate, 31, entered the country through Mexico claiming refugee status. Police are still searching for Nkwate.
The victims were from all over the country, from New Jersey to Kentucky. They wired the money, but never got their puppy.
“[A total of] $20,000 has been identified as being stolen from these individuals,” said Trooper Long. “It’s not out of realm that we’re going to get up to $50,000, $60,000, according to investigators.”
Through the course of their investigation, police also discovered forged documents including, driver’s licenses, registration plates and business checks. Evidence of fake passports was also found.
All are facing a list of charges including, corrupt organizations, forgery, insurance fraud and money laundering.