ROMANIAN ROBBERY: A ring of Romanians and one Albanian were indicted on allegations that they operated a multi-million dollar cyber fraud scheme, in which they sold nonexistent Rolex watches, cars, yachts and other luxury goods through eBay and other virtual marketplaces.
According to court papers that were unsealed Thursday in the Eastern District of New York, the seven defendants, Nicolae Popescu, Daniel Alexe, Dmitru Daniel Bosogioiu, Emil Butoi, Aurel Cojocaru, Ovidiu Cristea, Nicolae Ghebosila, Fabjan Meme, Cristea Mircea, Ion Pieptea, Dragomir Razvan, Nicolae Simon and Fnu Lnu were charged with wire fraud, passport fraud and money laundering.
The defendants posted fake ads on eBay, Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and CycleTrader.com for cars, motorcycles, and boats priced at upwards of $45,000. They then sent buyers phony certificates of title and invoices to convince them that the vehicle transactions were real. Buyers were sent instructions for payment to bank accounts held by other conspirators in the U.S, who opened up bank accounts under false identitiesusing fake passports made in Europe by the defendants.
When the buyers wired money to an account identified on the false invoices, the conspirator associated with that account would be notified and then would withdraw the proceeds and send them via wire transfer to another conspirator based on e-mailed instructions, authorities said. Operating since at least 2006, police have identified roughly 800 victims around the world, who have lost tens of millions of dollars. The government is asking the court for at least $3 million from the defendants, as well as jail time.