A major law enforcement operation in Romania led to the arrest of 90 individuals this morning who are suspected of being members of three distinct cyber fraud rings.
Prosecutors from the Romanian Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) assisted by national police executed 117 raids at residences in nine different cities.
The operation targeted three cyber criminal gangs which between 2009 and 2011 defrauded over 1,000 Internet users. The losses are estimated at around $20 million.
The fraudsters operated by posting fake ads on eBay and Craiglist offering to sell cars, motorcycles, small boats, consumer electronics and other goods.
Payments were received in bank accounts set up in the United States using fake or stolen identities and then wired to Romania.
The large-scale law enforcement action was a joint effort between DIICOT and other Romanian agencies, including the Romanian National Police (IGPR), the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), and the General Directorate for Intelligence and Internal Security (DGIPI).
It resulted in the arrest of 90 suspects which are being charged with electronic fraud, adhering to an organized criminal group and fraud with grave consequences.
FBI and Secret Service agents stationed at the US Embassy in Bucharest assisted the investigation by providing informational and operational support.
In the past several years Romanian law enforcement authorities have increasingly collaborated with their international counterparts in an effort to crack down on cyber criminal rings in the country.
Nine individuals were arrested in June under suspicion of being members of a phishing gang that targeted bank customers in US, Canada, Australia and Western Europe. Earlier that month, thirty alleged members of an international VoIP fraud ring were put on trial by Romanian prosecutors.
Online fraud on sites like eBay is a common cyber criminal activity. Users are advised to perform thorough background checks for sellers, ask them to meet in person if possible, and use eBay's purchase protection programs where available.