Law enforcement authorities from Romania, UK, Canada, and the Czech Republic – acting on an arrest request made by the US – have detained a number of six Romanian nationals and one Albanian, suspected of being involved in a multi-million-dollar cyber fraud scheme.
According to the FBI, the suspects – aged between 30 and 43 – sold fictitious boars, cars, motorcycles and other high-value items on sites such as eBay, AutoTrader, CycleTrader and Cars.com.
The fraudsters convinced their victims to hand over thousands of dollars before actually seeing what they were purchasing.
To make their schemes even more legitimate-looking, they would also email their victims fake invoices that appeared to come from reputable companies such as Amazon or PayPal.
The individuals are also accused of forging passports to allow their foreign national co-conspirators in the US to open American bank accounts.
It’s believed that the crooks managed to earn over $3 million (2.34 million EUR).
The US government plans to seek the suspects’ extradition. If extradited, they face charges of wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering and, some of them, passport fraud conspiracy.
If found guilty of their crimes, they might spend 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy counts. The passport fraud charges are punishable with up to 10 years in prison.
“As alleged, the defendants ran a sophisticated fraud scheme that used the Internet to reach across the globe and into the homes of unsuspecting Americans. They utilized high-tech counterfeiting techniques to create an aura of online legitimacy,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.
“This virtual con game nevertheless cost Americans real money. Thanks to our international partnerships, even the most sophisticated and tech-savvy criminal organizations are not beyond the reach of law enforcement. No matter how complex the scheme, we will spare no effort in protecting American consumers from fraud on the Internet.”