Six Romanians and one Albanian will face charges for their role in a multimillion dollar international cyber fraud operation, said U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) officials who unsealed charges against the suspects last week.
The seven suspects, led by Romanian national Nicolae Popescu, are fugitives, so the FBI issued wanted posters and Interpol sent out red notices in order to facilitate their arrest.
In addition to Popescu, the other suspects are Romanians Daniel Alexe, Dmitru Daniel Bosogioiu, Ovidiu Cristea, Dragomir Razvan, and an individual known by the names of “George Skyper” and “Tudor Barbu Lautaru.” The Albanian national accused of taking part in the operation is Fabjan Meme.
Six other individuals accused of being involved in the scheme ended up arrested in December 2012.
The suspects set up advertisements for cars, boats, motorcycles, and other high-value items on websites such as Cars.com, eBay.com, CycleTrader.com and AutoTrader.com, said DoJ officials. In addition, they created phony auto dealership websites.
They priced the items, which didn’t actually exist, between $10,000 and $40,000.
The suspects made high-quality fake passports that members of the conspiracy used to open U.S. bank accounts. They tricked potential buyers into paying them by sending them fake invoices apparently coming from reputable companies such as PayPal and Amazon, officials said.
These messages instructed victims to transfer money to certain accounts owned by the suspects, DoJ officials said.
“Using forged documents and phony websites, for years Popescu and his criminal syndicate reached across the ocean to pick the pockets of hard working Americans looking to purchase cars,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York.
“They thought their distance would insulate them from law enforcement scrutiny. They were wrong. By now, Popescu and his band of fugitives have seen their co-conspirators brought here to account for their crimes,” Lynch added.
“Today’s actions place them squarely in the sights of our partners in international law enforcement.”